March 29, 2014

The Appropriation of "No Contact": When Narcissists use "No Contact" against YOU

Portrait of a Young Girl by Pietro Antonio Rotari

This article does not refer to legal No Contact OrdersFeel free to contribute your experiences whether writing about your No Contact Plan, or the narcissist's appropriation of No Contact against you. I'm saying a wee prayer before posting this article and hope my thoughts are received in the same spirit they are given. 



I was asked to write about narcissists appropriating No Contact. No Contact used to be rare advice. Now it's the standard answer on message boards and blogs, professional or layperson. A No Contact Movement has grown exponentially this past decade; however, cutting off relationship isn't always healthy distancing. Sometimes it's abuse. Beginning with an explanation of No Contact, I'll conclude with three ways narcissistic people have used No Contact to serve themselves. I believe "appropriation of No Contact" will be a worthy discussion because a lot of people are being hurt by a concept that was never intended to control, punish, or coerce.

No Contact is a method of last resort, protecting people from abusive relationships. It is not intended to be a punishment; it is not meant to break spirits through ostracism or implementation of The Silent Treatment. No Contact is not coercion, punishing people until they yield, repent or surrender. No Contact is not based in magical thinking: the wishful belief that absence makes hearts grow fonder. No Contact is based on the best of intentions: to help people restore their equilibrium and stop the escalation of abuse and/or violence. 

No Contact is an extreme method for cutting emotional ties to someone who treats you with contempt. Persistent invalidation will, over time, erode your self-esteem. No human being is immune to feeling worthless when they are consistently rejected, criticized, excluded, neglected, and scapegoated for blame. Reducing time spent with people who build themselves up by tearing others down, is self-protective.

Self-protection is the goal of No Contact.

Low and No Contact can be life-restoring, self-esteem building, self-empowering methods for stopping aggression and reducing destructive reactions. Low Contact may restore psychological well-being; however, we cannot heal wounds that bind when our wounds are persistently invalidated and disrespectedIn my experience, most people reluctantly choose No Contact after numerous attempts fail to create a mutually safe and loving relationship. After an initial break from the "upside-down narcissistic relationship", many people are able to neutralize their reactions to emotional and psychological triggers, resuming some degree of contact. Low and No Contact turn reality right-side-up again.

No and Low Contact
The Intent to Do No Harm

You are hard-wired to make and sustain connections. Successfully freeing yourself from destructive bonds may require a period of No Contact while restoring your equilibrium. My preference is reducing reactive patterns by increasing self-awareness and building resilience through Low Contact. BUT, maintaining Low Contact depends on the degree of hostility and contempt you are subjected to when interacting with the narcissist. The horror stories people have disclosed online and in-person, justify No Contact in-the-now and the-eternal-hereafters. Yet even in cases of obvious abuse, they feel guilty about ending the relationship! So please take exquisite care of yourself and have courage in making the right decision for you. Low or No Contact, each approach has its own challenges and opportunities for growth.
"After spending twelve months away from the drama, I attended our family reunion without crying or hiding in the bathroom. When my narcissistic brother said it was no surprise to him that I hadn't remarried, I asked him to pass the potatoes, please." 
My preference for Low Contact is not meant to invalidate anyone's decision to protect themselves with No Contact. No Contact kick-starts healthy recovery. Knowledgeable support is vital to long-term success. This means relying on therapists, family and friends to talk things through when fear, obligation and guilt (FOG) make your knees buckle. Supportive friends empathize, allowing you to work through magical thinking, anger, self-doubt, regret and sadness. They have a long-view of the ultimate goal instead of getting stuck in the muck of the moment. Be cautious of anyone who blames or rejects you for breaking No Contact. No Contact isn't a perfect plan; its a goal. Reneging on your commitments takes a toll on your self-esteem, so be sure you are prepared to stick with No Contact before announcing your independence.

Limiting contact with abusive people can transform powerlessness into healthy self-efficacy. Limited contact with abusive people can restore your self-respect. No Contact establishes a safe space for recognizing vulnerabilities and weaknesses, increasing self-awareness and fostering healing. (Judith Herman) People who've suffered relational trauma must establish a safe environment and for some dear souls that means: No Contact. Even from people they love.

However.........

No Contact has grown centipede feet since its inception, running away from its original intention protecting victims. This is a predictable scenario since narcissists identify as victims. Perpetually. They may stalk, cheat, plagiarize, abuse and betray people, yet consider themselves to be victims, their victimizing behaviors justified. Perpetually. Well, what can you expect from a disorder preventing accurate self-appraisal, inhibiting the capacity for self-reflection? If someone is unable to introspect and own their aggression, they will view people's defensive reactions as unpredictable and threatening. From the narcissist's point of view, people are attacking without any provocation on the narcissist's part. They believe they are defending themselves from aggressionSince pathological narcissism is defined by distorted perceptions, what narcissists see is not what is. Their provoking behavior is outside their awareness. This does not mean they aren't consciously aware of their aggressive tactics. They believe their aggressive tactics are warranted.


Appropriating Self-Help

When an idea is worthy of appropriation, narcissists write the books & lead the seminars 

The Alanon community restored my sanity and that's-no-lie. Focus on Yourself was Alanon's guideline for people suffering from a family member's addiction. It wasn't long before narcissists jumped on the bandwagon, justifying extreme selfishness as "focusing on themselves". Even the concept of codependency was co-opted. People with narcissistic disorders saw themselves as too giving, too generous, taken advantage of by freeloading others.

"Focusing on themselves" was a self-serving interpretation of a principle intended for other-serving people.

There are several reasons why No Contact has been appropriated by narcissists. For one thing, it's easier using No Contact if you never attached in the first place. If you were never emotionally invested in the relationship, it's easier to walk away. Narcissists also have a desire to punish those who fail them, criticize them, trigger their shame. On the surface, No Contact may appear to be warranted and people support narcissist's convincing claims; but beneath their pretense of self-protection is hostility, aggression, and varying degrees of sadism.

Pietro Antonio Rotari
When Narcissists Use No Contact Against YOU
The Intent to Harm

Being told a friend, family member or partner is using No Contact to protect themselves from YOU is confounding. Reality is turned upside-down when the narcissist refuses your phone calls, deletes your emails, bans you from their Facebook page. Through the grapevine, you're told the narcissist avoids office luncheons because you're there. She can't be the bridesmaid if you're the best man. He can't go to the neighborhood picnic since you volunteered to flip the burgers. Your entire social circle from Earth to Jupiter has been informed of this tragic predicament and people wonder how YOU managed to make someone's life so miserable they had to use No Contact (or take out a restraining order). You didn't seem to be a dangerous person but who in the blue hell knows who anybody really is behind closed doors? You have now, my friend, entered the surrealistic world of DARVO: Defend, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. DARVO is the terrain of the narcissistic personality which means the No Contact plan has switched from self-protection to the intention to harm.
"We had planned for you to go with us on the cruise and then Ted told Tom that he was afraid for his life because you were too crazy for cruises. We don't want you to feel badly because we really like you. We just felt Ted would be a better fit and besides, Ted said you were terrified of water---something to do with your abusive childhood, which we're so very sorry to hear about and never would have guessed. I hope you won't take this personally because we can still do lunch. Without Ted, of course."
At this point, the desire to defend ourselves and "set the record straight" often leads to over-sharing, the kinds of confessions that make us look guilty. Saying nothing ends up being our best defense, trusting the truth will eventually "out" and people will know we're not too crazy for cruises. Please know that you are not obligated to explain why the narcissist refuses contact. Just sigh deeply and say, "Isn't the weather nice today!" Change the subject. Don't take the bait. People love drama, so act as if you are nonplussed and buy movie tickets instead.

The truth is that you feel slightly crazy and even broken by No Contact allegations. The narcissist feels powerful and proud. You feel rejected and alone. The narcissist finds your replacement, even a "mob squad" of flying monkeys to tear you down. You are flooded with fear, obligation and guilt, the very human desire to maintain connections. The narcissist is inflated with self-righteous satisfaction because you are being punished for disrespecting them, or for whatever your offense might have been and that can change from day to day, one hour to the next.

The reason people are hurt by No Contact is because we have four basic needs, according to Kip Williams in Ostracism: the Power of Silence. If you grew up with narcissistic parents, you likely experienced The Silent Treatment, the cold shoulder, the "You do not exist" torture of living In Contact with people who use No Contact to control family members. Without warning, you are shunned until you have suffered sufficiently for your perceived sins, thus satisfying the need to punish. Suffering sufficiently means: breaking your spirit.
"Being cut off, cut loose, cut down, and cut dead is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to us. I argue that the simple act of being ignored simultaneously attacks four fundamental human needs. Our sense of connection and belonging is severed; the control we desire between our actions and outcomes is uncoupled; our self-esteem is shaken by feelings of shame, guilt or inferiority; and we feel like a ghost, observing what life would be like if we did not exist. [meaningful existence] " ~Williams (page 6)
No one in the narcissistic family knows how to resolve conflicts because feelings are not validated and recognized. Feelings are silenced, repressed, or used as facts and acted upon, irrationally. The narcissistic family cannot teach children how to resolve relational conflict because narcissists lack the social and emotional intelligence required for healthy resolutions. That means family members carry emotional dysfunction forward, invalidating others because that is all they know. Harming people by cutting off relationship is a learned behavior that can be unlearned.

I think it's important to include some background as to why children of narcissists (ACoNs) repeat dysfunctional behaviors in adult relationships, even using the Silent Treatment they hated so much as children. Without intervention of some kind (self-help is great), they operate on automatic pilot until experiencing a serious crisis. If they don't have a pathological disorder, a relationship crisis will encourage them to unlearn harmful behaviors because they care about their impact on others and desire relationship with them. If attempts to set limits and establish healthy boundaries are consistently trespassed or even ridiculed, they must assert their self-worth and focus on themselves, allowing others to do likewise.

Low or No Contact is a last resort after failing to resolve hurtful behaviors inherent to narcissistic relationships. There is no intent to harm others and it's usually a private decision.

In contrast, the narcissist's use of No Contact is a punishment granting complete control by blocking communication with perceived offenders. The intent is to harm.

Control, punishment and coercion are three goals of appropriated No Contact.


When No Contact is about Power and Control---not Love and Attachment 

1) When No Contact is a preemptive strike (Control)
Narcissists use No Contact to prove they were victimized. It's a precautionary defense against the perceived threat of exposure if and when you tell your side of the story. The fact that you are unlikely to tell people about the incident(s) won't occur to the narcissist who believes "others will do to them, what they would do to others". Contrary to their beliefs, most people are sensitive to the narcissist's pain, oftentimes refusing to talk with other people about the situation because they don't want to hurt the narcissist. Maybe our shame has something to do with that. It's never easy telling people you were abused. 
The preemptive strike might also be compared to the Smear Campaign. When your reputation is being undermined and you know it, even an innocuous glance feels like an accusation. Reputations are important to people. We want to be well thought of which is why Smear Campaigns posing as No Contact, are tactically effective. The public humiliation can drive people into behaving in ways that reinforce the narcissist's accusation that you are crazy. (crazy is a typical accusation) Once again, the narcissist's lack of self-awareness means their harassing behaviors are not recognized as contributory. And if they are tactically conscious, you must accept their sadistic intent. Enjoying the spectacle they've created is not normal. It can in no way be considered self-protection because the majority of people feel remorseful when seeing the harmful effect their behavior has on others. Even someone who "did us wrong." (Revenge is the narcissist's territory).
2) When No Contact is The Silent Treatment (Punishment)   
All you know when people pretend you don't exist is that you're wrong. You are a bad person. Your presence is irrelevant. You've been banished. You are not allowed to defend yourself or refute allegations. The Silent Treatment increases feelings of powerlessness because we have zero control over the situation. How can you make amends if you have no blessed idea why you were "ghosted" in the first place? Total exclusion maintains the narcissist's perceptions without contradiction and without resolution. If your voice has been silenced, there is no reason to doubt the narcissist's version of events. The intent is to punish you for offending the narcissist (or group). 
When people experience social rejection as torture, it's fair to say they're being punished. I think this form of No Contact can be defined as Relational aggression. The Silent Treatment posing as No Contact could be considered bullying since it also causes serious psychological distress (even suicide). I'm sure many of you have experienced this with narcissistic people. It is emotionally crippling beyond reason which is why I wasn't surprised to read this statement: "Social rejection has been established to cause psychological damage and has been categorized as torture." 
 3)  When No Contact is Getting Their Way (Coercion)  
This form of No Contact trains you through fear of rejection, to give narcissists whatever they want. After being cut off, you'll try harder the next time without realizing you're being conditioned to comply. Your anxiety increases because the relationship is not safe and you never know when you'll say or do something worthy of another No Contact Compliance Lesson. The more you are rejected by the narcissist, the harder you'll try to reinsert yourself in his/her life. 
You are hard-wired to make and sustain connections. You may even be obsessive about getting closure because you don't know why they went No Contact in the first place. Overtime, the unpredictability of doing something wrong and being punished, creates enough insecurity for people to "walk on eggshells" and (to the narcissist's advantage) become even more manageable, more controllable, more compliant.
Sickeningly, some websites instruct people to use No Contact to "get back a former lover". Well, game-playing is the stuff and nonsense of narcissistic personalities who have a ludic love-style (Campbell). Game-playing should be a Red Flag whether you are doing it yourself or someone else is doing it to you. The second red flag in this No Contact game is the sheer Machiavellianism taking advantage of the human need for love and connection. With Machiavellian personalities, the ends justify the means and that never sits well for trustworthy relationships. If someone is using No Contact to manipulate you into pleasing them, what kind of relationship do you think you're creating? Susan Elliott counsels, "Don't let yourself be bullied into being friends."    


A final word about No Contact as "shame management" 

Narcissists have low tolerance for criticism. They have limited self-awareness. They inflate self-esteem to maintain good feelings about themselves which means their self-esteem is fragile. Narcissistic people are easily shamed. They attack anyone who threatens the image they have of themselves. Close relationships are primed for shame management when people see through their pretenses. An easy example is infidelity. "No Contact as shame management" could be any wrongful behavior, but the majority of people deem fidelity to be a value. So let's go with a topic I'm sadly familiar with and wish I had known about narcissistic defenses at the time.

When the betraying narcissist reconciles with their spouse and family, they are reminded of their mistake, the infidelity. They are reminded of their ordinariness because infidelity ain't the road less traveled. They are reminded of their vulnerability to family member's power to forgive or reject. They have lost control. They feel annihilated without their Good Person Image eliciting admiration and respect. The resultant shame can be overwhelming to a degree most people can't fathom. This is how the family becomes a source of unbearable shame even if family members are repairing the damage, forgiving and forgetting. The family can get over the narcissist's wrongdoings; the narcissist can't.

When the false self is exposed through direct confrontation, the narcissist feels threatened. They feel as though they're under attack by people who see through their pretenses, see their weaknesses. While in this state of shame, the narcissist's perceptions are filtered through a lens of sheer panic. Losing the false self/image so carefully crafted to meet relationship needs, feels like an imminent death. This is one reason why people with no intent to do harm, are perceived to be life-threatening. Narcissist's sense of self is threatened when they are with people they betrayed, lied to, cheated or treated badly. They have lost the control they need to manage their narcissism.

Even though it's hard to bear when you are subjected to another level of crazy-making abuse: No Contact is a good thing. No Contact, even when the accusations are unwarranted and have little to no basis in reality, still reduces conflict. Because you are able to take responsibility for yourself and because you have the capacity to work through your emotional reactions, respect the narcissistic condition. Don't hold on. Don't seek closure. Don't try to be friends. Let Them Go. No Contact is a good thing. The truth of your character will not be permanently sullied by a smear campaign or silent treatment disguised as No Contact.

This will take time.

It gets easier over time.

Hugs,
CZ


Resources

Campbell et al. Does Self-Love Lead to Love for Others? A Story of Narcissistic Game Playing

Effects of ostracism are a health concern 2005. Medical News "Ostracism is more powerful now than ever because people have fewer strong family and friend support systems to fall back on."

Freyd, Jennifer. What is DARVO?

Herman, Judith. 1992 Trauma and Recovery (page 155)

Pain of ostracism can be deep, long lasting.  2011. Science Daily

 Narcissistic Game Playing by PlanetJan

Shunning on Wikipedia 

Williams, Kipling. D. 2001 Ostracism: The Power of Silence. The Guilford Press

Williams, Kipling on Vimeo (14:00 minutes)





171 comments:

  1. Thanks for this essay, CZ. I am the anonymous commenter who asked you to write about No Contact. I agree with you that helpful insights discovered and propagated by helpful individuals are far too often co-opted by narcissists and other exploiters. There are even people trying to use accusations of narcissism to advance right-wing political agendas, not to mention the army of "wanna-be" gurus who seize on the latest hot topic of the day in order to present themselves as experts and make a fast buck.

    I like your advice to let a narcissist go if he decides to use No Contact as a weapon against you - basically to say, "Well dude, that's your decision, and I say Amen to it." (Of course, that should be something we say to ourselves, and not to the narcissist!) Let the narcissist constrain himself and save the rest of us the trouble. And then get into relationship with people who want to be healthy, and who will lovingly keep us honest about our own health or lack thereof.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous!

      There are several essays contained within this single essay (which was long enough as it is) so perhaps I can pick up on a few of the ideas and write about my personal experiences. I wasn't sure exactly what you were looking for so I hope this article covered some of your concerns. I'm also concerned about the "exploiters" looking for a fast buck. I wish people weren't sitting ducks for exploitation when they hit the Internet. Our boundaries are terrible when we're in the "thick of it" and we're more gullible than usual (there's research on that) and we want answers so desperately that we can't even see we've hooked up with another exploiter. They smile so nice, ya know?

      I don't like the way No Contact is being implemented as some kind of Holy Grail...or as a battering ram to use against people who "break contact." I think No Contact is an easy answer when people don't have time (or the desire) to listen to someone's story. They leap to No contact as an answer. Well for one thing, that's utterly stupid because when someone shares children with a narcissist and is divorcing, it's impossible to use No Contact. Then people say, "Well, you aren't using No Contact so NO empathy for YOU." ha! See what I mean? An escape from thinking deeper than a cliche.

      And then it seemed some people's No Contact had more to do with revenge than healing. Their nasty intentions were disguised among other people's "good" intentions---kinda like wolves in sheep's clothing. They rejected and blamed their mothers the way society always has (including the psychiatric community) and were applauded for being total shit asses!

      I had to think really hard about what distinctions there might be between people using No Contact for self-protection, and people using No Contact to hurt other people. That's because I was part of the Bradshaw movement validating our inner child who'd been wounded by neglectful or abusive fathers (for the most part). I can't recall a nasty movement about No Contact back then. It appears to be fairly recent that people have picked up on this idea and applied it to almost every insult imaginable. You don't like the look on your sister's face? NO Contact! Your best friend said something you didn't like? NO Contact!!

      I really do hate it when concepts like No Contact are appropriated and it happens all the time. But when you are involved in an online group (or face-to-face support), it's important to know the difference. Usually, the fakers are far more willing to exact some kind of revenge AND they take a certain kind of satisfaction in knowing their "target" has been hurt by their own hand. I would hate for someone to be involved in a group like that and end up damaging their relationships because they'd been "egged on" by a pathological band of haters that encouraged people to act on their worst instincts.

      Of the dear hearts I have known both online and off, No Contact is a miserable and painful last resort to save themselves (and their families) from further abuse.

      Thanks for getting the conversation going. I appreciate it so much when people take the time to consider my thoughts. I don't expect people to agree with me all the time but I would like to inspire people to put on their thinking caps, too. Not everything we read on the web, or in self-published e-books, is healthy for us. We come to the web filled with anger so it's important to learn how to manage our anger rather than finding reasons to act on it.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    2. Confession - As a survivor of N abuse by my ex-husband, I have tried for 2 solid years to go NC. My inability to do so has felt incredibly weak. The texting contact I have initiated, however, has served the purposes of both giving myself an opportunity to express my anger, distain and disgust to my ex AND simultaneously inflicted constant reminders of the guilt and shame that a part of him feels. Knowing my ex reads my texts and rarely responds (other than an occasion F U), has given me a sort of twisted comfort. Not so coincidentally, once I finally seemed to get control of myself and stopped texting, my ex NH blocked my texts. Ain't that about a bitch? Just as I implemented complete self-protection, he decided to implement Control, Punishment and Shame Management. What amazing pre-emptive perception he has. After one month of NC on my side and being blocked on his side, I texted him asking for his help on a neutral topic from a different number and voila, he responded immediately. This told me all I needed to know. He still has no self-control, is unpredictable & ever-changing, cannot resist requests for advice (ego strokes), cannot commit to his own self-implemented rules, is still utterly cold-hearted, and is still susceptible to guilt and shame. As if anyone could get revenge on a N...I take pleasure in the small stuff...LOL

      Delete
    3. Talk about appropriation of No Contact. Wow. This is a terrifying post, and I can't help but wonder if it is an incredibly clever joke making fun of the article and the people in these posts. I hope it is, since otherwise this is a phenomenal example of how the actual narcissist so brilliantly plays the victim.

      Delete
    4. No joke, it just happened to me , one year marriage, combined 7 kids and moved school districts. She could care less. Painful beyond description. Evil

      Delete
  2. Thank you so much for this post! It's really timely for me and I needed to read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You needed to read it and I needed to write it. ha! Maybe you're not a blogger, anonymous, but something that's occurred to me many times is that I'm writing what I need to tell myself. It's not that I'm clueless, just rambling through my day without a thought in my brain (well maybe to a degree, lol) but feeling an urge to write about a topic puts my thoughts in logical order (some might argue with that point lol). And by the time I've found the perfect image for the article, I actually know what I think, or believe, or know in my gut to be true. Writing is a remarkable way to understand ourselves by accessing our "inner knower".

      Thanks for commenting <3
      CZ

      Delete
  3. CZ, This is a great post with tons of useful information. I appreciate your willingness to speak about NC in a less "PC" way. I too have found that NC seems to be the "only way" according to some, but that it is not always that simple. It's important that we really understand NC and speaking about it from all angles is necessary.
    I also appreciate you way of describing some of these very complex relationships in ways that are easier to understand. I found this very helpful:
    "Well, what can you expect from a disorder preventing accurate self-appraisal, inhibiting the capacity for self-reflection? If someone is unable to introspect and own their aggression, they will view people's defensive reactions as unpredictable and threatening. From the narcissist's point of view, people are attacking without any provocation on the narcissist's part. They believe they are defending themselves from aggression. Since pathological narcissism is defined by distorted perceptions, what narcissists see is not what is. Their provoking behavior is outside their awareness. This does not mean they aren't consciously aware of their aggressive tactics. They believe their aggressive tactics are warranted"
    I hadn't ever been able to fully comprehend how the narcissists defended their behaviors, and this is an wonderfully accurate (and simply stated) way of describing it. Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jessie! Thank you for commenting! <3

      Because I think most people know me to be a fair and kindhearted person, I'm relying on their "good will" to even broach this topic. I've encouraged people to use No Contact; I've encouraged them to stay in contact; I've had people use No Contact with me (online conflicts); and I've limited contact with a few when attempts to resolve our differences "upped the hostile ante".

      Because our society is becoming "atomized" and family relationships are falling apart faster than sandcastles, our instant reaction might be No Contact 'cuz that's what we do in the 21st century. We individualize. We must consider the negative implications of using a "tool" that may permanently damage our relationships. That's why there's a brief paragraph about ACoNs reenacting the Silent Treatment they learned so well. Silence was my first reaction when someone offended me (like my husband) during the early years of our marriage. I learned, because he insisted, how to talk about the situation rather than sulk or pout. But it took concerted efforts "unlearning" my unhealthy reaction. I'm assuming other people in narcissistic families lacked the same ability to resolve conflicts as myself. That's why I pondered in the essay, if No Contact was "emotionally familiar" to The Silent Treatment? And if so, was No Contact an attempt to punish someone the same way we felt punished by the Silent Treatment when we were children?

      There are psychological movements that come and go throughout the decades and in retrospect, were hurtfully wrongheaded. I've been part of some of those movements and lived to regret behavior that was encouraged by the therapeutic community at the time. So there's a valuable lesson in not using No Contact with people who pissed us off because sometimes, (no really), we are in error but can't see it at the time. An folk wisdom comes in handy: "Don't burn your bridges behind you."

      And one last thought. No Contact has the potential to escalate conflicts. If No Contact is made public and everyone knows you hate your Auntie (or whomever), that Auntie will do whatever she can to protect her reputation. Of course she will!! That's only normal! Standing there and saying nothing is abnormal. We have to be taught to do that. So when someone is insulting or destroying "your" reputation, the whole reason for going No Contact increases contact 'cuz people are obsessing and defending and reacting. Watching an avalanche of dysfunction like that take place, also informed my thinking about the downsides of "announced" No Contact. When No Contact is declared, it's like blowing an early morning bugle to wake up the soldiers!

      Delete
    2. Again, I'm glad you are broaching this topic. Several times, I have almost quit blogging, as I felt that I was (silently) being criticized for not going NC. I almost had the feeling that some readers felt that, by me choosing to stay in contact, I was choosing the abuse. I didn't feel that many readers were willing to accept my choices and support me. Certainly, there are times when we DO watch someone go back for more and more abuse. But in the case of FOO N-Abuse, I don't think it's always that simple.
      You had mentioned a parent who has an ex-Nspouse. They certainly can't just go "NC". And for me, I have N-inlaws. I'm not sure how NC would work if I just decided to do it unilaterally. Sure, I could "excuse" myself from their company. But that doesn't get rid of the effects that they have on my husband (and by extension, my marriage) and my children. And I can't just demand that he keep my children away from them. It is something we've had to work on together. I can't just make unilateral decisions on parenting, as I would never want him to make unilateral decisions either. So, it's a process of working out the line of where I feel comfortable with his family being in my life and that of my children. It's working on how their overbearing influences invade my life through my husband. NC is just not an option. I mean, I could divorce DH and move to Europe, but that's not really a solution is it? Especially when I love my DH. And I want my kids to have him in their lives.
      I have not gone NC with my mother. I have slowly pushed back our contact until we are somewhat-LC (sometimes I wish more LC. She tends to bombard me with FB, email, and text). Often, at the beginning of my blog, I was urged to go NC. I felt that was so premature considering I had done NO recovery work, to speak of, on myself. (And really, I think it has the potential to destroy someone who is not healthy enough to maintain NC.) I had no ability to maintain NC, I had not taken the time to really evaluate the situation, and I was in such a panicked state that I really was in no place to make such a monumental decision. And even now, I feel that going NC is something "fluid" that needs to be worked through, instead of a hard and fast law. For me, NC is the last resort. The final end point. And I don't take that lightly.
      I have, in essence, gone NC with my sister. Although I wouldn't say it is "forever". I never "declared" anything. I just finally confronted her about her behavior. And it didn't go well. I asked her to consider my point of view and engage in a discussion (by email only, as she has a propensity to gaslight. I needed a "fact trail".) She was unwilling. She attacked my further, instead. And then, she tried to ambush me by calling me (which I refused). At this point, I'm simply waiting for her to come to me with any act of good will. Any thing that I can't point to and say that she really is open to trying to repair our relationship. I have simply moved myself out of her "line of fire". It may be permanent, it may not. I haven't "announced" to family that I'm "not speaking to her" (although she certainly has. She also told me she didn't know if she "wanted to continue" a relationship with me when I first confronted her behaviors). I'm not trying to punish her. I just simple could not allow her to continue to hurt me (and by extension my husband and my children.) Being not in contact with my sister is not something I'm proud of, not something I want, and certainly something I wish was different. But it can't be. It is what it is.

      Delete
    3. Hi Jessie,

      You've brought up the same concerns as myself. People "push" others into using No Contact like it's the only right-and-perfect answer. Which it's not. No Contact is NOT growth. That you felt compelled to please other people by leaping to No Contact, is no surprise. I got my share of criticism and still do. I do not enforce No Contact from anyone appearing to have a narcissistic trait, or even a whole bushel of 'em. It is ridiculous and impractical---unless we want to be a Mountain Man living alone in a secluded cave in northern Idaho. Or Alaska maybe.

      The illusion people have is that being able to block other people completely is evidence of strength and I'm here to say it's not. It's easy to go No Contact and isolate from other people (anyone who offends us). It is much harder to stay in contact and work through triggers as they arise.

      I have seen married couples do the No Contact Split---she won't talk to his mother and he won't talk to hers so family reunions are incomplete, straining every get-together AND the marriage. Unless there's serious abuse, I believe children are better off watching their parents maintain good boundaries with "difficult" family members. Seeing parents work together is healthier! That's not faking anything, it's actually empowering children to learn how to take care of themselves as adults, too. And it teaches them that just because they don't like their mother-in-law, they cannot disrespect their spouse by cutting her out of their lives.

      Your earnest efforts to work through complicated dynamics will be rewarded one day and you will be so grateful you had the courage to stick with the process. Part of blogging is "putting it out there" which allows us to make sense of the "upside-down" world of the narcissistic family. This is what needs validating and supported---your persistent efforts to work through your past and create a healthier future for your family. Your children are learning from the choices you make and the things you do. Using No Contact must be taken very seriously because the repercussions for your children are life-long.

      My FOO used "No contact via the Silent Treatment" with my parent's siblings whenever they disagreed. (the legacy of the narcissistic family is that people can't resolve their differences because they can't process emotions healthily). Their sibling disagreements over money and inheritance meant we were separated from our cousins who didn't live that far from our house. It was a huge loss when our parents couldn't get along. The argument causing our families to stop talking to each other was completely stupid in retrospect and my parents regret their immature behavior today. Parents must keep a broad view of the bigger picture and "exclusion" narrows down their children's experiences. Far better if parents are able to work through their "issues" and teach their children to do likewise. Our society is becoming isolated enough as it is.

      It sounds like your sister is using the DARVO on you. And it's interesting to me that she's "announcing" her alienation. Has she recruited people to discredit you? Your last paragraph fits descriptions of people with narcissistic personalities:

      Unwilling/unable to compromise and resolve problems
      Hostility and the need to "punish"
      Unable to deal with confrontation (attacks when feeling criticized)
      Her story changes to fit her mood
      She is unable to respect your declared boundaries

      Sometimes the only thing we can do is allow the other person to determine when and if they are willing to have relationship with us. While we're waiting, we do what you are doing---working on yourself and taking care of your family. It's sad when sibling relationships come to this and I sympathize with your situation. <3

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    4. My sister always has my Nmom on her side, believing that I "hold all the power" and am just cutting her off. I've always left the door open for my sister (I am not actually "NC", as she has access to me by FB and email and all my privacy settings on FB allow her full access to my page. She can, technically, contact me whenever she wants.) but she isn't interested in working on a new relationship, but would rather I stay in the position she's always found most comfortable for me. My sister tries to sway my father, but he knows better (he's often on this side of her attacks too). And most of our family has seen her behavior, so she doesn't have a lot of allies there. And although I would prefer a relationship with my sister, she is a classic N, and involving myself in her life in any real way was with her was destroying me.
      I do think it's important we teach our kids good ways to handle Ns (and have good boundaries, work on relationships, and no when to walk away or take a huge leap back). We can't bubble wrap our kids. And I don't want to isolate my children from their whole extended family. That isn't the best choice either. (I don't believe everyone who can't see a N for who they are, are necessarily "flying monkeys".)
      BUT, I do think it's important to guard our kids against abuse, and not allow them to see us abused either. I find that is a difficult line to walk (and information on this is relatively difficult to come by. Most "N" blogs say to never allow your children around the Ns). I, personally, have never left my children in the care of my MIL (whom I believe is far on the continuum, in a very covert way) and I catch a lot of flack for that. And frankly, I don't like them around her much. You had written "And it teaches them that just because they don't like their mother-in-law, they cannot disrespect their spouse by cutting her out of their lives. " (which I don't think you were directing at me personally). Many people seem to think this is what I'm doing with my kids, "cutting" her out because I don't like her. My husband has felt that at times. However, I feel that her need to emotional fill herself up with anyone and everything (and her favorite place for NS is the "grandchildren") is not healthy for my kids. And I spent years being her (and my NBIL's) favorite scapegoat. It was not healthy for me. She trampled any boundary I set out, subtly and covertly insulted me and put me down, and made sure I had NO voice in the family ("her's" or "mine").
      So, it's a struggle. I've had a great friend in Kara who has often advised me as you have: to not push NC and to teach my children to deal with them. I've also had people who have made me feel I'm further abusing my children by allowing the Ns access. I struggle every day with the choices I make and how much access a I allow to my kids. You spoke of "in cases of severe abuse" and I often don't know where that line is (I mean, obviously I know what severe abuse is, but where do you cross that line into severe abuse? Is her constantly invading their boundaries, ignoring their emotional needs for her own, and using them to fill herself up severe abuse? Is her negligence when watching my niece and nephew -which could either be described as "spaciness" or "purposeful negligence" depending on who you talk to - abuse? Is keeping my kids from their grandmother and not allowing them alone time -even though they do spend time with her with either my DH or me - abuse?) It's a complicated topic and further complicates NC, in my mind.

      Delete
    5. What I appreciate about you Jessie, is your willingness to give me (and others) the benefit of the doubt. Instead of leaping to the conclusion that I'm criticizing you specifically, you take the whole of "me" into consideration and I appreciate that so much! It's easy to use the wrong pronoun only to have someone come completely unhinged. My intentions are in the right place but sometimes my pronouns aren't. ha!

      In complete disclosure, my mother-in-law was a nasty woman. We stopped visiting my X's family on Christmas Eve when she decided our family wouldn't get presents that year, and other families would. The look on my children's faces when gifts were being passed around, was enough for me to tell my X we would NOT be spending the holidays at their home again. We did not need to use No Contact because we didn't live next door. Proximity affects relationship boundaries. If you live in a foreign country, you don't have to declare No Contact. You are granted a safe space to live your own life and create your own family values without unhealthy intrusion and daily drama.

      In reference to: "And it teaches them that just because they don't like their mother-in-law, they cannot disrespect their spouse by cutting her out of their lives".

      That comment is about a personal situation that has troubled me for a long time because the "mother" in question is not and never was, abusive to the woman who punishes her with No Contact. The truth is that the daughter-in-law is acting on bitter feelings about her abusive mother who has passed away. As long as her abusive mother was alive, her feelings had somewhere to go. Once her mother passed, she needed another mother to fill that role since apparently, she cannot resolve the problems arising in her childhood. She is feeling legitimate feelings but she's directing them to the wrong person, thus abusing a woman who has never done anything to warrant No Contact. It is the weirdest situation I've ever witnessed. And it definitely influenced my article about "appropriated No Contact" intended to harm. I don't know how often this might happen with narcissistic people "appropriating" No Contact; if I've witnessed this terrible thing, other people have, too. I have a pretty average sort of life.

      So no...my comment was not intended to suggest you were cutting your MIL out of your life because you didn't "like her." Sorry about that! You have legitimate concerns about her self-serving behaviors that may negatively effect your children's lives. Your children are your responsibility and determining how dangerous a relative might be to their mental and psychological health, is not a simple matter. You are trying to work that out through your blog, asking for input and learning about pathology!

      p.s. Kara is a wonderful friend. We are lucky so lucky to know her.

      Hugs
      CZ

      Delete
    6. No problem, CZ. I really didn't think you were directing it at me (but it's an easy thing for people to assume. Lord knows enough people have assumed that about me. One person told me "she's a nice woman, you need to get over your issues with her." Huh. I wish I would've said "I'm a nice woman too, and you don't know me, so please stop assuming.")
      And I do think the story of your the DIL that you tell happens more often than we would like to think. Which is unfortunate, as it makes situations like mine (that have legitimate abuses) seem like petty grievances. It is so sad that she can't figure out how to work through her anger in an appropriate way. And I will say, I did spend A LOT of time making sure my issues with my own crazy NM weren't influencing my feelings about my MIL. I also got a lot of "outside" validation to make sure it wasn't just me feeling bitter. But, in the end, my assessment of the situations was pretty accurate. I SO wish that it was different. Frankly, after having an NM, I'd love a MIL who was kind and caring. Anyone who could, in some small way, fill that void of a mother. I do hope the woman you reference can figure things out. It sounds like a sad situation all the way around.
      Your MIL: WTF? Seriously, how can you DO that to a kid. My MIL did a similar (but not nearly as bad) thing last summer when we went to visit. She handed out a new toy to my older son, but nothing for my younger. I'm not sure if it was because my little one was only 2, and she thought he wouldn't notice? I wasn't in the room when she did it, but I heard her offering up some pathetic excuse to my DH about how she'd "look for a similar toy" for my other son. Whatever. I don't think she should give anything to one, if she can't give something to the other. She also has given a package of 2 cars to my older son and told him to take the one he liked and give the other to his brother (who was a baby and the toy was inappropriate for him.) She use to shower my older son with gifts when he was a baby, but rarely has anything for my littlest (or he gets these pathetic attempts at gifts). If she only did it once or twice, I could look the other way....but the blatant favoritism (in my mind) is frustrating. She is the type of woman who is always playing favorites and hands out gifts to her sons according to who she thinks needs things and is never fair in her handouts (because she deems us "more well off" she doesn't give us anything. Other siblings are just as "well off" but spend like crazy, so have "less money". I don't care about being given things, but it's the lack of fairness between her kids that drives me crazy.)
      Anyway, I'm rambling. Your MIL sounds awful and it's not surprising your ex turned out to be the bastard he was.
      And again, I appreciate you bringing up the topic of this. It has been an interesting discussion throughout the comments.

      Delete
    7. Writing messages back and forth is a challenge. It makes sense when you're writing it and then you read what you've written and wonder why you keep trying. haha! So again, thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt.

      I don't think people who spend a lot of time writing posts on their blogs are the kind of people who go No Contact because they don't "like" their mother-in-law. Most bloggers in my view, are investing energy and time into understanding the relationship. They are willing to get feedback. They bear up to the occasional criticism because their goal isn't Popularity. It's Understanding. I think most bloggers are earnest and sincere.

      Jessie wrote: "I do hope the woman you reference can figure things out. It sounds like a sad situation all the way around."

      Yes, it is. I stuck my meddlesome finger in the boiling cauldron just long enough to get a blister. Then determined my "proper boundaries" and stepped away.

      The TOY gifting is really strange, as if your MIL can't empathize with the littlest child. Or dismisses his hurt feelings as unimportant. Favoritism is common with narcissistic parents/grandparents. How frustrating it must be when your MIL ignores your wishes and continues to do as she pleases. At least you'v educated yourself about narcissism so you can intervene, or mediate the impact of her behavior on your family.

      Thanks for discussing this topic with me, Jessie!

      Delete
  4. Love this post so much, CZ, and you know why! More later but such a wonderful post. Narcissists appropriate and pervert EVERYTHING. wonderful post, one to read and re-read. love CS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi CS,

      I know you are super-busy right now but thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'll take the opportunity to write out a few more thoughts about No Contact because this topic has been 'itching' for discussion. We've had enough time (about a decade) to see how this concept was being implemented . As you have also witnessed online, people are encouraged to act on their anger by abusing people with No Contact. If no one questions "No Contact" as a potentially abusive tactic, then people feel justified to do almost anything! And some of those people are simply caught up in the whole thing before realizing their intentions differ from their "friends'" intentions.

      I have watched people validate cruel and abusive treatment of their mothers (in particular) because no one dared suggest their cruelty might not be warranted. Anger is a powerful emotion to manage and everyone makes mistakes neutralizing hateful impulses. Never hear me as Ms. Goodie Two Shoes. I've made the same mistakes everyone else does. Understanding "online relationships" and how easily we can be influenced by them, is another learning curve in the 21st century.

      Sometimes people are counseling others to do "for them" what they couldn't do "for themselves." They may even be seeking recruits to justify harmful behavior. In other words, they are pulling someone's strings to make them dance the No Contact Boogie. It is so easy to be manipulated like that when we're desperate for answers. If my post only makes someone pissed off enough to "question" the advice they've been given or the action they're taking, then great. Bask in the uncertainty. Certainty Is The Mother of Fools.

      And one more point (not to you specifically...just a few more thoughts if you don't mind!): some groups/people derive sadistic pleasure vicariously. They enjoy the drama and pain inflicted on someone's mother (for example) when they encourage a "friend" to use No Contact. They want to hear about that mother's suffering and derive satisfaction in her pain. That is what I've witnessed online...not face-to-face. People may empathize better and hold themselves in check better when they are talking with someone face-to-face. Online is a dangerous space for unconscious transference.

      When hostility is over the top and people are hee-hawing over a mother's pain, you are not witnessing self-protective No Contact. You are witnessing the self-serving appropriation of a concept intended for other-serving people.

      Love ya 2 (now get back to your work!),
      CZ

      Delete
  5. Hi CZ,
    It hadn't occurred to me that Narcissists would do NC to people, and it's been really interesting to read this from that perspective. I don't think that NC is yet as widely spoken about in Europe as it is in the US. I have not heard anyone mention it in my "offline" life. I really liked your point about how people will use NC for self-protection or for punishing -depending on who they are. I came up with my own "version" of NC, before I even realised there was a term for it. However I think my "version" was slightly different from the standard NC that is promoted in the web. I have never seen the sense of making a "big" announcement to the person you are going NC. It seems to me that it's the equivalent of telling the Mafia you're leaving ;) Like you said in the post, is only going to escalate the drama. Personally, I think it's better to focus on learning how to establish boundaries and if the family member/friend/whatever decides to leave the relationship, then that's that. Like you said, it's best to let them go.

    Love,

    Kara xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kara,

      Yes, why make a public announcement that is sure to cause friction for everyone involved?

      Maybe Europe will see a rush of NC now that narcissism is being discussed worldwide. Many of the books about narcissism, suggest No Contact as essential to restoring one's integrity and safety and in many cases, that's true.

      Dr. Nina Brown discusses other methods for developing healthy narcissism by reducing contact with narcissistic people. I tend to believe that people who are dealing with Malignant Narcissists may not be able to engage on any level and No Contact may be the only way to stop the abuse. But I also think people are taking advantage of the No Contact bandwagon (as we do with everything!) to inflict harm; or maybe avoid their own issues. Which is none of my business but I hope people hear my concern if they are involved with any group that encourages RNC (Revenge No Contact).

      My curiosity was peaked when a friend told me she'd gone NO Contact with a family member. We have online and face-to-face relationships that have their own "reality" so it startled me to hear her enforce No Contact with someone she 'hoped' to teach a lesson. Because we deal with extremes in the ACoN community, it was ludicrous to hear her apply No Contact to a situation that didn't warrant protecting herself to that degree! So I wondered, what in the hell is going on here? Why would someone go No Contact with a person who may be pig-headed and obtuse but certainly is NOT a malignant narcissist. I think the give-away was "to teach her a lesson."

      Love
      CZ

      Delete
    2. "To teach her a lesson", wow, that sounds almost like the thing we used to do as kindergarten kids when we were annoyed with a friend; you know, the old "I'm not your friend anymore" (do kids in the States do that? -I'm assuming here ;) -. Yes, it says a lot about someone if they feel the need to "teach" someone a lesson to that degree. I think that's where we are all so different, because I never feel the need to put anyone in their "place".
      I guess what it boils down to is "laws versus principles", someone will read about NC and take it as a "law", instead of spending sometime thinking about whether it truly applies to their situation or not. It's a bit of a leap to assume that one solution "fits" all.
      Hugs,
      Kara

      Delete
    3. Kara wrote: "It seems to me that it's the equivalent of telling the Mafia you're leaving ;)"

      ha...that's still making me laugh! Indeed, leaving the Mafia is a perfect way to describe it! That's one way to get your family's attention. "Teaching someone a lesson" tells me that person had probably endured The Silent Treatment herself at some point. And it had taught her a lesson so now she's doing her duty passing on her life lesson. ha!

      If the person she's "teaching a lesson" is a narcissist, well...the narcissist will not be emotionally distraught the way she was. It's hard to wrap our heads around this fact but we are replaceable. Narcissists might "miss" the benefits they gained from being in relationship with us; they might feel badly about their image being tarnished or their reputation being questioned; but they make themselves feel better a lot faster. All they have to do is replace us and voila, problem solved. Or (which we all do to some degree) list the many ways we were defective proving we weren't worth having relationship with anyway.

      Don't you think people are looking for quick and easy solutions---something to end the pain they're experiencing? No Contact might appear to be a simple solution, which it's not. If blogs and websites had intensive discussions (thank you to everyone commenting on my blog), perhaps people would gain a more balanced and realistic understanding of No Contact before they leaped to what only appears to be an easy answer.

      I am learning a lot through this discussion so another "thanks" to everyone for taking the time to read and comment. <3

      Delete
  6. Hi CZ,
    This post has a lot to consider. I feel that I have learned a perspective that I had not considered before...that the narcissist is using NC as a long term weapon. Well, at least in my case, it was and is.

    I left home, with my violin, my Betsy-Wetsy and a few clothes at 19. I hitched a ride with a sympathetic neighbor who knew my mother for many years and said "We were afraid of finding you hanging from the rafters in the barn." I was shocked that others, neighbors saw her behavior, but I was also angry that no one did anything. This was the mid 60's and it seems children were expendable. At least I was.

    I am now 66. For decades my mother gave me the Silent Treatment. Relatives died and babies were born and I never heard boo from her. Most times I only heard about these 'family' events when they were well over. This was her main weapon: to treat me like I didn't belong in this family, which hurt and caused a lot of confusion and dismay for many years. I would try to 'be a good daughter' , and with many of us, that means that we give them gifts, gifts, gifts, because we are trying to buy their love....but narcissists don't 'love' in the same way that normal parents do.

    Thirty years ago I went to various therapists (who basically told me to "love my mother") and when she heard about this, she said: "You better not be talking about me.". Well, you can guess that she was the reason for therapy. LOL!

    Only 8 years ago did I find a therapist who said the second week of therapy: "Your mother is a pathological narcissist and run. Don't look back". This woman is not a hysteric, and for the past 8 years she brought me to the idea of No Contact. I tried LC, but that just put me in line for her continued abuse. I remember about 4 years ago when she was recovering from some knee operation, and I also had a sprained ankle, and she knew it...that she told me to get up on a stool and arrange the curtains on the other side of the bedroom. She kept me up there (or I obeyed her) for about 5 mintues, when my ankle gave out. I think this was one of the very first times I realized the connection between sadism and narcissism. And then? I decided that NC was the only way to heal.

    Before, I had no idea faced (intermittently) with this woman HOW to heal, because she would open wounds repeatedly. She was in control at all times and there was no way that I, beginning my 60's would ever be seen as an independent woman.

    Lady Nyo, part one as your blog won't allow me more than 4,096 characters. LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Heinz Kohut has talked a lot in his " The Analysis of the Self" in particular the chapter devoted to Progressive and Integrative Developments with the Narcissistic Realm, about this issue of control, power and empathy in the narcissist. And this is in purely clinical observations with patients. The problem is this: most of the narcissists WE know never go in for therapy: they believe the rest of the world is lacking and they are sane. So Kohut is basing his observations with patients that either are extreme psychotics or are institutionalized. He also had a mother that was what he called finally a "crypto-psychotic' personality and he only felt a sense of relief and emotional growth when he was able to 'label' her with such a diagnosis. And curtail his visits. (and early form of NC) He went on to develop some remarkable writings on empathy and narcissists, and what I take away from the very difficult academic work is this: With the people in our lives who are struck with the narcissist wand, save yourself. There is no possible change in the farther reaches of this particular pathology, and the clinical observations were just that: they did not evoke particular changes in the narcissist. In other words, they didn't get better.

    I was too dumb and full of hope that this woman would change. I also almost lost my precious life in that believe...or waiting for that change.

    My mother is 94. Her behavior and vemon is unflagging towards me (and probably towards others in the world because her sentences (as I remember from 4 years ago...) always began "I hate....." So No Contact was the only thing that saved my life and in fact...within the four past years I have bloomed. People here who know me know I am a writer and have published a few small books: That seems to have made her hatred of me even worse. So be it.

    I don't know (much) what is being said on the internet about NC, but for me it was the only path out of a life of abuse, neglect and dismissal. And I ain't going to her funeral. And that is healthy, not revenge.
    LN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. You were uppermost in my mind while writing this post, LN. In extreme situations, No Contact is the only viable option. Either that, or continue to be your narcissistic mother's "play toy." She obviously couldn't change her ways because she didn't CARE to change her behavior.

      Your story about arranging the curtains while your mother watched you with your broken ankle, sends chills down my spine. Smugly watching to see how long you'd obey. To see if you'd let her control you. It is that degree of pathology that justifies "No Contact" and no, it is not revenge. It is self-protective.

      Coming to understand my personality better gives me good reason to distance myself from people who enjoy seeing if they can make me comply---just cuz I'm nice like that and don't see malice in their requests. It sounds like you're an open and kind person too which is a great deal of fun for sadists...which is how I read your mother. Instead of loving her daughter's vulnerability and trust, she sees it as an opportunity to take advantage. Other than changing your entire personality, how would you get along with a mother who had no remorse about abusing her daughter at every chance?

      I still remember your story about "Mother's Day" when you called your mother and she cut you to the quick with one of the cruelest thing I've ever heard. That your therapist was knowledgeable about malignant narcissists and encouraged you to use No Contact, was a blessing. And here you are today---one of the most creative women I've met.

      Your comment below is another example of the way society reinforced the meaninglessness of children's lives. Like you, there are a few examples in my childhood when people looked the other way, wondering when the child would be killed. It's not like that today and we can be grateful for progress. No, it's not perfect and no child is safe from abusive environments but at least a few people have been forced to awaken from their "dream state" and recognize child abuse.

      Your wrote: "I left home, with my violin, my Betsy-Wetsy and a few clothes at 19. I hitched a ride with a sympathetic neighbor who knew my mother for many years and said, "We were afraid of finding you hanging from the rafters in the barn." I was shocked that others, neighbors saw her behavior, but I was also angry that no one did anything. This was the mid 60's and it seems children were expendable. At least I was." ~LN

      This is appalling. And even so, you've struggled with No Contact because of societal pressure to honor parents no matter what horrors they submitted their children to. I was hoping you would comment because you are unafraid to talk about experiences that are painful. It seems to me and those who know you, that you have "blossomed" using No Contact . I hope you know that you have my full support should you ever consider submitting yourself to your mother's reign of terror again. Email me. Post me. Shout. No Contact is life-saving for women like you.

      Love
      CZ

      Delete
  8. Thank you, CZ...you know I will, but I also pray that I have found enough 'self-worth' to remember WHY I went NC.

    NC is such a serious decision. You have to be convinced that the person you are levelling this against really deserves it. Or actually, YOU deserve to be freed from the continued abuse. I have always held (though I haven't known exactly why) that when narcissism is crossed with sadism, it's time to make your feet move fast..in the other direction! LOL!

    Decades of being subject to her abuse, neglect, sadistic behavior has fortified me in this decision. But it didn't come easy because we humans are full of hope. And that with a narcissist on the far end of the spectrum only leads to continued misery. She will continue to tread the same path because she can't do anything else. 94 years certainly has twisted her wiring.

    A few times over the past four years I either called her or she called me (once...to announce her sister had just died...I knew from another relative) When you would think this would be a time of grieving together, the second thing out of her mouth was: "I'm not leaving you anything." LOL!

    Since her entire life and approach to me was to isolate me from this (dysfunctional family and my siblings who are carbon copies of her) you could say that I was surprised by her phone call. Hah. She just wanted to stick her gouge in again. LOL! I really wasn't surprised. Narcissists are boring and mundane people, and they don't really develop new patterns. They are not creative enough.

    And that is the reason (in part) I went NC with her. My life and my creativity I had to protect from this debilitating woman. And the sister in laws who report back to her everything they read about her! LOL! So, maybe there is an upside to NC: you hit other rotten birds with the same stone?

    But NC should never be considered as a weapon of revenge. It's too final for that and too serious an undertaking.

    Thank you, CZ. I just feel...Apathy towards her...and that is better than hate which is guilt for lack of love. I think.

    LN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need to remember why you went No Contact? As lovely as it would be to ignore the past and only surround ourselves with positive people and tell ourselves pretty little lies, that's NOT the road to mental health and peace. Denial and/or dissociation can be a pit stop now and then but we'd best not take up residence. I think courageous people are the ones who continue to peer into the past, seek connections in the present, and not only hold themselves accountable to "better living", but other people, too. Maybe this only sounds reasonable to people who've suffered abuse but it's easier to let others off the hook than ourselves. I have learned and perhaps you also, that real forgiveness means never forgetting. What value does forgiveness have if you've forgotten (more likely: dissociated) your experience/trauma?

      You are making connections between your childhood, your adult life, your present life and that is re-membering in a psychological and spiritual sense. I read that somewhere so don't give me credit for it. ;-)

      Your comment about having enough "self-worth" to know you deserve to live a life free of your mother's abuse, is so insightful! Maybe that's why we are often older before we realize we aren't obligated to "please" abusive people. I wonder though, did you have specifically loving or close friendships that fortified your sense of loveability? Your good-enough-ness? Relationships outside the family circle can be healing, especially when they contradict the labels or definitions imposed by narcissistic parents (or partners). Some of the descriptions narcissistic families have of each individual are completely bass-akwards and when "external" relationships say, "You are so kind", a lightbulb goes off in your head and you recognized the contradiction between what you were TOLD about yourself and who you really ARE as a person. It sounds like you had at least one "lightbulb friend" (ha) who broke through your mother's projected lies, allowing you to see yourself as you really were.

      There is no doubt your mother enjoys punishing you, even at 94! "I'm not leaving you anything!"??? How many times have people written about the inheritance being held over their heads like a weapon? And how many times have ACoNs insisted they didn't care about the inheritance, thus letting their parents off the hook even on their rotten deathbeds? Nobody earned a windfall inheritance more than the child of a narcissist.

      Do you think apathy is better? Apathy would bring some comfort rather than the exhausting weight of persistent hate. But I have a love-hate relationship with hate, so, lol. I'm not much use on what our goal might be. Some people have written about a goal of "indifference" which sounds close to apathy. Maybe there's a point when people can experience compassion, or sympathy for a narcissistic parent. I'm not sure 'setting a goal' like that would be helpful. Most people have already been groomed to "forgive, forget and honor" their parents. Maybe setting a goal of indifference or apathy is best and allow the rest to unfold as it will. One thing I do know, this is a looonnngggg process and cannot be condensed into a six month healing plan.

      Delete
    2. Well, as to the 'ah-ha' moment, I can't really point to one. or an adult in my childhood, but there must have been someone. I am writing a 'memoir'...."Memories of a Rotten Childhood" and making no excuses for it. Just last week wrote an exhausting chapter on 'the mother' and why she was so absent in this book. There is a reason. What "Rotten" started out to be has changed over the past 7 years. and I think that reflects reality. For some, healing is in cobbling words, memories together. For others it's baking cookies and cakes. I perfer the cookies hands down.

      I did write a poem....I'll post it here, though most of you have read it. It comes from the deepest part of the soul-pond....looking through those waters, they are dense with pond scum. LOL! And I believe you have to look backwards to sum up and go forward.

      I Wonder….

      I wonder about myself,
      The mourning, the sorrow,
      A low flame inside
      Flaring with memory
      Burrowing deep,
      Always a shadow of flame
      Intruding upon my day
      Throwing me back
      Into a murky past
      Where I am rattled by its force
      Its grip—
      And unwelcome visitation.

      I cover the sadness
      With a silk blouse,
      A mask for a face,
      An unsteady smile.
      Order for the outside
      Hiding chaos within.

      My father’s death had me
      Travel from hatred to love
      Finally understanding this old man
      Who could not say “I love you”,
      But did.

      When he was close to death
      I washed his body
      Bathed this feeble old man,
      Emptied of power, rage
      Returned to innocence
      Now forgivably human.

      When my mother is dead, finally dead
      Will I travel this same path
      From hatred to love?
      Will I rewrite history
      Me to forget anger,
      Her with an ember of love,
      To end the remorse
      To make more of a ‘mother’
      To bury her with love?

      And when I aged
      It started to reverse
      Half way back.

      But it never really makes the full circle
      For the wounds are deep
      And the memories hurt like hell.

      Perhaps only time will tell
      In this fugue of life.
      Perhaps it will come to be
      A dull blanket of forgetfulness
      Thrown over the past
      That segues to forgiveness—
      ….in time.

      Frankly, I am not big on forgiveness when the abuser hasn't shown any act of 'please forgive me'. Forgiveness doesn't apply, but this is more the Jewish thought on forgiveness. I think we must not forget, either. But we must put these people on the shelf and walk on. Apathy is a 'holding in place' emotion to me. Until the light of some sort of clarity turns on and something better emotionally come forth. It's a lot of energy we throw to these narcissists, and it is frankly, debilitating. After the rush of constant anger, it just is ...exhausting...And obstructionist. There has to be an ignoring of the other to heal...and NC was the only thing I could come up with. And as far as learning ...there were way too many f___g narcissists in my life, even recently. I only have learned in the past very few years to chuck them off. A voice coach, an editior, some 'friends', etc. They seem like knocky-moles to keep popping up and I have to keep hitting them on the heads! My relief is in Japanese poetry. It gives peace.

      Love, LN

      Delete
  9. Hi guys, I didn't really choose NC; it went into effect as a series of lurches, wherein I'd try to get my mother to communicate, she ignore/repel me. For several years. Then she'd resume contact as if nothing had happened, saying she'd "grown" and now "understood her issues." So we'd resume the same lackluster drip-drop contact where she'd go through minimal motions of contact and I'd feel like hell each time. Then she'd push and push and push with passive aggression until I'd call it out. Then she'd repel and ignore me again for a few years. And so on. Finally, in 2008, she said "what would you need from me for us to have a relationship?" I said 'only one thing--don't drag my sisters in. Deal directly with me.' The rest, you know. Plagiarized what I said to her during that very conversation, as well as my work, then when I raised it, dragged my sisters in and said they were "part of my support network." A few months later, that letter full of accusations of my malevolence, demanding an apology. Then…..nothing. She believes she is every inch the victim of my "malevolence." Nothing will get through that wall. And now that I think about it, what kind of mother has to ask her child "what would you need from me for us to have a relationship?" REally? A mother who wants only to give the absolute minimum. And even that was too much. So NC descended upon us. I never declared it. She really did with her handwritten legal pad letter. Because I even sent her a kind response to that, respectfully disagreeing with what she'd written. So she chose NC; but she will and has painted it as my choice. With a genuine NPD person, there is literally no way through, because there's really no "there there." I've thought a lot lately about how even when things were "good" with us, it was usually because I was feeding her ego, supporting her, amusing her. Or, I was failing at something. She always loved that. Of course, part of your comments and post gesture toward the faux-ACoN who got people to act out her use of NC with her mother as a weapon. That is unforgivable and inexcusable. That was narcissism. When I think about that whole long sordid business with "Upsi," I realize how profoundly manipulative she was. And that was clearly urging NC to buttress her own choice to hurt her mother.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi CS,

      You were also at the top of my mind when writing this post. Not just because of your mother but also because we both witnessed the online "mother-bashing" brigade. This experience "opened my eyes to see" a very unhealthy process taking place when people validated one another's aggressive instincts. Knowing how to manage anger without turning ourselves into monsters is overwhelming. The sadistic pleasure in demonizing mothers is when we need to take a good look at ourselves and stop legitimizing behavior that "smacks" of pathology.

      They say "the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree" and that is something all ACoNs need to stick on their monitors to remind themselves that the only way to end the narcissistic legacy is to stop acting like narcissists. Hostility is NOT a sign of courage or strength though it's often mistaken as such. It may take years to manage unruly emotions and we'll improve our self-worth if we are not hurting other people (thus hurting ourselves). Finding friends who will validate our right to be angry while at the same time encouraging us to live by pro-social values, is essential. Although we will kinda hate our moralistic friends for a bit, we'll be grateful they told us NOT to "egg" our mother's car after toilet-papering her house at midnight.

      It's not difficult (especially online) to find friends who will encourage us to be worse than we really are. Nuff said on that I s'pose...

      The way you arrived at No Contact is a good example of "self-protection." Most of the No Contact ACoNs I've talked with have taken a similar approach. They've done a fair amount of inner work to build their self-worth so they'd be strong enough to stand on their own. People who leap into No Contact without preparing themselves for the psychological onslaught of "ending connections", suffer tremendously. They may yield or give up, thus eroding their self-esteem. No Contact with family members should ever be taken lightly because it is far more psychologically complex than No Contact with a friend or partner. So I think quick advice to go No Contact is dangerous in cases of narcissistic families...without a strong self-worth and supportive friends, people turn to suicidal thoughts. Even a nasty relationship with a narcissistic parent maintains important connections, even if "unconscious." I wish I could say more about that or find substantiation but its something i've witnessed since starting "my" recovery in the late eighties. Cutting oneself off from family is a serious serious decision and we don't even know all the implications it might have. It should never be done without "some" recovery work and support.

      You tried and tried to work things out with your mother and she continued to use your sisters as "her" support. Unbelievable...and then you educated yourself about Object Relations (as I remember your story) and psychological dynamics. You've educated yourself about NPD and ACoNs. You've created a healthy support group by being your self and honestly participating in other people's lives (not projecting yourself into their story). You have a respectable status in your field of work. All these things hold you steady when the pain of No Contact threatens your security. You've done No Contact well and I wish we read more examples like yours than the animosity we're witnessing by people who use No Contact to hurt other people.

      Delete
    2. Thank you CS for sharing your story. Your story is very similar to what happened with my mother. After moving back to the city where my parents were living, I tried to put our 'weird' relationship back together. At that time, I thought I was being immature and rebellious for not trying to get along with her, I was still stuck in my teens still a few years after university. So without the physical boundaries I tried to 'act' like a daughter, that we are 'normal'. I went over to their place and every visit was met with her yelling at me, telling me how awful I am because I don't do things a certain way and that I don't do things or behave like all the other Indian girls. I bit my tongue because I would engage her by responding to her attacks and so I took because I thought this was maturity. I spent weekends for three years trying to 'act' normal and nothing changed. Then DH and I moved to a foreign country (for his job). CZ, your comment "If you live in a foreign country, you don't have to declare No Contact. You are granted a safe space to live your own life and create your own family values without unhealthy intrusion and daily drama." made me laugh. Because that is what happened more or less to me. I was given the space and I kept up with Skype calls and the conversations would end with her expressing her anger at me and DH looked at me and said 'why do you take this?' So I stopped calling and being the one to call. And what was funny, she never called for a long time. She finally did about a year and left a nasty message on the voicemail. There was another phone call and e-mails where she sent jokes/spam around to everyone (not directly to me). At that time I didn't know about narcissism or the term 'no contact'. I thought I was getting space to think and see what was happening to me, what was wrong. Like CS, the no contact wasn't a formal choice. It was some time to think which ended up being five years. It is very hard to think about that time and the fact that I didn't respond to the couple of her voicemail b/c I was alienating my father. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it. However, what I got from this space was so beautifully described in the quote you shared:
      "After spending twelve months away from the drama, I attended our family reunion without crying or hiding in the bathroom. When my narcissistic brother said it was no surprise to him that I hadn't remarried, I asked him to pass the potatoes, please."

      That was how I felt when I reunited with my FOO. I could walk away not in a swampland of shame and not hating myself. It was never meant to be five years (or any specific time frame) but it ended up that way because of what I needed and how my mother approached it as well (her usual episodes of silent treatments). In that time, I found out about narcissism, read so much, found blogs like this and others, connected with people and I didn't feel alone. It gave me space and air to breathe.

      Thank you to you for sharing your stories. Hugs, TR

      Delete
    3. TR,

      The shame of our human imperfection can be crippling. It can reduce the quality of our lives, interfere with ALL of our relationships. Shame separates us from ourselves, inviting the Inner Critic to homestead our souls. And "shame" is the common denominator in narcissistic families--no matter what country we grew up in, no matter our economic status. We are 'shamed' for being inadequate and defective. We are shamed for not living up to narcissistic parents impossible expectations. We are shamed for not being good enough to earn their love.

      John Bradshaw's books and lectures offered a way out of the Shame Bind. The healthier I became through self-help and therapy, the less vulnerable I was to people's attempts to control me by shaming me. Without a doubt, John Bradshaw ruined my marriage. ha!

      I think many of us can testify to the importance of reduced contact to restore our self-confidence and worth. Being able to walk away from a family reunion without hanging your head in shame, speaks to the hard work you have done" learning, unlearning and relearning" healthier relationships with other people and yourself!

      Love, CZ

      Delete
  10. You know, CS, in reading what you said, especially 'even when things were 'good' with us, it was usually because I was feeding her ego, supporting her, amusing her. Or I was failing at something. She always loved that."...That struck a chord with me. Exactly.

    She loved my failure especially. My first marriage, etc. But she didn't know that my first husband hated her and left me with the final words that he was afraid that I would turn out like her.

    All we have value for these narcissists is that we feed their enormous egos. I always felt like a lumbering bear around her, trying to amuse her, trying to play the clown just to make her 'like' me. But all I was to her was a clown, a fool, no one of any merit in her life. And I was her only daughter and her first child. That you mother has to ask 'what would it take'?' is a revealment of her 'mothering'. She doesn't have a clue, or actually, she's only willing to give the bare minimum and that only in fleeting measures.

    I never understood what my therapist Liz was putting out to me from the beginning: "You mother is jealous of you". Why? What mother would be envious or jealous of her daughter? For any reason? Wouldn't they be proud of what you could do? But this isn't the course or in the minds of narcissists: They feel in direct competition to their daughters, there is something that they can't avoid in this. And it's because they don't see us as independent and competent people. In their minds and world we are just extensions of themselves, and that is the reason they can plagarize, steal, defame us. We don't exist to them...we are those ghosts that they want to forget.

    Yes, both of our mothers have used NC against us, and we, as their daughters didn't pick up on this for years, probably you faster then I did, though. But any contact made us feel ill at ease with them...my stumbling block was a stubborness to believe that a mother could act in such fashion, even though I had clear evidence from an very early age that 'something wasn't right with Mom".

    I choose life. And NC was the path for that. However, I do recognize psychological issues in myself for these long decades of wounds: I find that I can't feel grief when someone dies that is in my family or even neighbors, and only one friend sent me into depths of grief. For a short period. All the emotions and time we have spent dealing with these horrible people called narcissists (at the extreme end) have left wounds and scars that impact our empathic response. A wall has been built up in me. I'm trying to deal with this in therapy because I think it is the 'hardening of the heart' that we see in our own narcissistic mothers. And IF they rob us of empathy for others, they have won a significant battle.

    LN

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi LN, and CZ; it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do, coming to terms with what my FOO is. And it feels like looking back at my past with them and seeing a desert that I mistook for an oasis. It was never an oasis for me. It will never feel "normal" to me that I came from such parents, a grandiose narc (NF) and the Evil T. But learning how to exist with the knowledge that I was never cherished by them is helping me to see how much I needed from other people. I'm still in LC with NF, as you know; but pretty much NC (by default) with one sister and now LC with the other (who used to be close). If we can't learn about ourselves in the aftermath of figuring this shit out, it's all been a giant waste of emotion and time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The disintegration of the family is another loss. Some siblings recover together, helping each other with a re-membering of shared experiences and feelings. Sibling relationships can be empowering. Unfortunately, children of narcissists compete against one another, scrambling for parent's "golden crumbs". There are many reasons why ACoNs might never be strong enough to examine their FOO and we need to come to peace with that, too.

      Delete
  12. Thank you for this article. When I went NC with my mother 17 years ago, I didn’t understand how it would affect every other family member or family friend. I knew that I wanted to leave my immediate family, but I didn’t know that everyone else would either side with them, or just let me go. It was a painful learning experience, but now I believe that I would do it all over again if I had to because even though you feel like a complete orphan in the world, it is better than being their victim.

    After 12 years of NC, my grandmother died, and I did not go back for the funeral. My grandmother exacerbated any internal guilt my mother may have felt, and once she was gone, I could tell the struggle was over for my mother. My NM made the obligatory call to my voicemail the next day (over 32 hours later) to tell me my grandmother died, and told me how wonderful it was to be there with her when she passed and how beautiful my grandmother’s death was, and that if I wanted to attend the funeral the details would be online in the newspaper the next day. At that point, I lived over 17 hours away, and it was obvious she waited so I had only a small window if I wanted to go. My not going to the funeral gave her all the ammunition she needed to tell everyone she was going No Contact with me. She now had a fabulous reason to hate me openly and receive support from everyone around her.

    I think when you go No Contact that you have to accept that you will continually be hurt by what the Narcissist does, and doesn’t do. They will continue to say whatever they want, and people will more than likely believe them. You should assume you will be left alone, and everything you left behind, will be lost. And that should be okay with you. You are going No Contact to protect yourself, they are using it as a tool against you. They can only tilt at windmills.

    My parents have lost both of their mothers, and took healthy inheritances from both of them. They may have passed some of that to my brother, and not to me, and that is what it is. Ironically, they abandoned their $1M condo on the beach, and are now living in the other grandmother’s house that is valued at a little over $100K that they paid $1 for. So really, you may have to wait a very long time, but sometimes, karma works its magic in its own way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for adding your No Contact story to this thread, AfterBeckett. Deaths usually bring families together, softening hearts and making reconciliation possible. People realize life is short and relationships are precious. I am sorry that your mother seized the opportunity to recruit devotees ("flying monkeys").

      These are the kinds of mothers that are outside most people's awareness. People can't imagine a mother would hurt her daughter intentionally. You seem to have come to peace with it all, which is testimony to the strength of people's spirits, even when they were raised by narcissistic parents.

      You are absolutely correct in warning people about narcissist's ability to convince people you are a horrid human being. Narcissists not only exaggerate, they 'lie' to garner support. Unfortunately, their audience is likely to believe whatever lies they're told. I appreciate your warning to people using No Contact because the odds are, they'll be the ones who are alienated by friends and family.

      And when karma works magic in its own way, we all celebrate with you! Thanks for sharing your story about grandma's house! ha!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    2. I was in a very abusive "marriage..one sided, one opinion, two ppl= not a good thing!. My ONLY option was to go no contact, that I did, from day one! I really had no choice, not that I would have wanted to break the NC rule..I knew better than to even go there! After 12 years of pure hell, beatings...rapes..just an awful situation for anyone to have endured, I was more than determined to do NC. You see, sometimes people leave you no choice, your thoughts, cares or concerns have never meant anything to them anyways, why would that all of a sudden change with them..it wouldn't! As a matter of fact, he got worse. There was a lot of "talk' coming back to me, through people, that we both knew. They were telling me all kinds of things he had said about me, all lies. His self inflated self, was not at all seen by others, like he thought it was. People had seen through his games, people knew he was a wife beating POS! People also knew, he was making these things up on me, to try to make himself sound like a victim.
      His mother, his enabler..had tried to talk me into going back with him! I quickly let her know, that was not going to happen, ever! I also let her know, that I would be ignoring any and all attempts to contact me again. She had known about the abuse I had suffered, she done nothing but make excuses...and blame me or sometimes deny his behavior. One thing she, nor he ever done was, take responsiblity for what he had done, to me and to many other people...especially women. She would try this, if she could be slick enough for me to answer her phone calls. Usually using someone elses phone, I would answer sometimes...not knowing who it was. That all stopped to, no more answering calls from numbers I didn't know. She didn't want her sons behavior to be exposed either, but he had already done that, you see. It was not my doing that ppl had discovered his dirty self.
      He was never bothered by the fact, that I had deeply hated and despised him. He just wanted me to stay with him, no matter how I felt towards him. That shows they have no empathy, not to care if you love them, or hate them...just stay and give praise. Dont be a threat, of exposing them for who they are. Even though, many times..they have done that already, to the ones they hide from.
      I was able to 'escape' from him and not once reached out to him for anything, ever! I never hurt in my heart for him, i loved my freedom. My freedom was so wonderful, a feeling i had never had in my lifetime. I certainly wasn't going to give that up, for him. I knew what he was all about, nothing good at all. He was a monster..now he's a dead monster. he died, but he never said he was sorry to me or nobody else. A young boy, his gf son..he was abusive to him. i heard he called him into his room, before he died and told him it was his"the boys' fault, he had been so hard on him...again, never being responsible for his actions.
      He also claimed that he was one of GOD's children! I don't think that could work. You have to have some humility, admit mistakes...put another in front of yourself. He could have never truly worshiped anyone, but he could demand it for himself. BTW, i had left him many times before, but had always felt dependent on him, i had to learn to get over that to leave him for good. I had never been so determined to do something in all my life, as was my decison to leave him and go NC! I wasn't going to allow him to continue the abuse, that's what it was, that's what all of it was...abuse!!

      Delete
  13. "I appreciate your warning to people using No Contact because the odds are, they'll be the ones who are alienated by friends and family. "

    Yes, we will, but what is the alternative? In many cases, most cases where NC was instituted because of the overwhelming evidence of continued abuse, this can't be helped. And family that aligns with the narcissist ? Knows the behavior, has seen over years the abuse and shunning that the scapegoat of the family has suffered? Has not raised their voices because they don't want the vemon of the cobra-narcissist turned their way? Or perhaps they themselves are narcissists? Well, why would you want to claim these people as kin?

    Yes, life can be very lonely, especially in the early stages of our consciousness about NPD. And our taking up the NC path. I wanted the 'good enough' mother so badly that I joined different churches, Episcopalian, Quaker, even a time (short one) in the Atlanta Temple, looking for Mrs. Good-Enough. No takers.

    There are people out there who might not be struck with a narcissist parent, but they suffer in different ways. And knowing this helped....However, it is always to be a longing, a lacking in our hearts that we truly are 'motherless children'. I had to step into the role of 'parent' to others, though I never really knew parenting for myself. that was strange and hard.

    Ah, this topic is so full of hurt and woundedness. But I praise people like AfterBeckett (love that name!!) who have come to a peace with this situation. That is growth and maturity.

    Ultimately we have to turn our backs (and forget our simmering anger and this is hard) on the narcissists in our lives because they consume so much more of us than they ever gave, and we give them free rent in our heads with our anger and 'hope'. They are the walking dead. Zombies. And nothing comes good from a zombie.

    There is a wonderful website that I came across in the wee hours of the morning: Luke 17:3 I believe is the title. It said things in ways I never thought a Christian website would talk about family, funerals, narcissism. I am not a Christian, in fact, I don't have a religion, but this was solace and support for so many issues...as this site is also.

    Love,
    LN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AfterBeckett's comment was important because most people believe that when they go No Contact with a pareNt (for example), other people will support them. They believe that if they tell their side of the story, other people will say, "Wow...of course! No Wonder! Let me love you!" If people have that expectation, they'll be hurt even more.

      There's no use doing battle with a narcissist because you cannot win. Not if your integrity means anything to you.

      I believe there is value in standing up for yourself and saying "no more." It restores our self-respect. We must set limits with people who have no respect for boundaries and no compunction against exploitation...nor limit on their entitlement. The question we're asking on this thread is how might we reduce the negative fall-out? Can we? How do we keep the focus on ourselves instead of inciting a war? When is No Contact appropriate and when might Low Contact be a better solution?

      There is no cut-and-dried solution to complex narcissistic relationships, I don't think. Reducing solutions to "one answer" may be causing even more pain in people's lives. I guess that's my concern. Hearing how people have handled narcissistic relationships has been extremely valuable today. People need to hear from those who've used No Contact so they can make an informed choice about whether or not they can bear the consequences. Sometimes, even total isolation is worth the price so we can come to peace with our lives ad live without constant fear of criticism, rejection, projected malice. It can be hard to Stand Up when a malignant parent is constantly pushing you down. Whatever the price may be, you are worth it.

      Love to you too
      CZ

      Delete
    2. Thank you, CZBZ and LadyNyo for reading and commenting on my comments. I agree with having ongoing discussions about what consequences of our actions might be. Contact, Low Contact, No Contact. I believe that everyone, at every level of their awareness and healing, needs support. There is no one solution for our problems. Besides nothing is ever neat and clean. I had both direct and indirect contact with my parents and brother after I left, but needed 500 miles between us before I could start really enacting and processing my separation from them. The work never ends. When CZBZ says, “No Contact is NOT growth.” That is so true. I have experienced and really lived what it means to be No Contact. I got out when I thought I would go crazy and seriously self-destruct, but I still have not done the work to really save myself. I’ve followed every fact and every bit of their twisted motivation until I have memorized 3 generations of dysfunction, but I can’t seem to figure out even the simplest things about myself. Like, who I am I, without them? I think I put the cart before the horse, and am grateful that there are so many wise and experienced people writing here.

      Delete
    3. Hi AB, I too agree that NC is not by, by definition, "growth." There are different ways to grow. For some, it can happen while still in regular contact. It all depends on the nature of your Narcs. For others, NC is a sad inevitable endgame (!), a consequence of realizing you are growing old with frustration waiting for Godot. When you go NC, you enter a state that society ostracizes and refuses to comprehend. You become the object of doubt at best and derision (for being "unloving") at worst. It's a stark and lonely place, with collateral fallout as siblings usually take the parents' side in an enmeshed FOO. So any growth that happens must be the result of additional hard work, efforts to self-define, to concentrate, as Lady Nyo wrote on her own post, on our own achievements. Shift the lens and one can realize that it doesn't really make sense for grown-ups to be or feel entirely defined by their FOOs. We live the first 18 years with them. Then, if the ties are strong and good, we would happily and volitionally be part of each others' lives forever. But FOOs are our start in life. If that is damaging, if many many years of trying to make it healthier for ourselves continues to be futile, we have different strategies we can use. For some there is only NC. It should be a last resort, and never used as "punishment," or to deliberately inflict pain. That's not growth, that's enmeshment of a different kind. For many decades, when my mother would shut me out for years at a time, I'd obsess about it and burn with anger and hurt. Now I don't feel that way. I am moving on and redefining my life on my own terms. That's the best I can do, and it is NOT optimal.

      If I were my mother, I'd write a self-help book called "Leave and Thrive: How to be your Best No-Contact Self." Yup. She's probably working on it now.

      Delete
    4. "Leave and Thrive: How to be your Best No-Contact Self." With the added subtitle: "How to abuse your daughter without even leaving your house!"

      And the glitter-stick advertisement: "Bully recipes included free but ONLY for short time! Our first edition first printing has almost SOLD OUT so buy today and don't MISS OUT on this life-changing, god-inspiring, miraculous opportunity to turn your daughter into a noodle casserole the entire family can enjoy!"

      ;-P

      Delete
  14. Geez....I have to disagree. No Contact was the basis of growth for me. Tremendous growth. In going NC with my NM, (and my foos) I found the freedom to apply my energy to something that wasn't them....their insults, their shunning, the constant going over the tapes in my damn head, the insults, the rejection....you know what I am talking about.

    NC gives the 'space' in our brains and hearts to apply our talents, our creativity to ourselves. To make an outward form of this creativity. At least it did for me. It not only saved my life (literally) but it jump started my creativity. This was so oppressed, so covered over. The paintings I had done over the past 20 some years were only 'praised' 'accepted' by my mother IF they were the colors that she wanted on to her walls. LOL! I remember her turning a large portrait of my father I did in watercolor to the wall, because she didn't 'like' it. No reason, just whim on her part. I was crushed. My father had died and I did this painting with the greatest of love, even gluing some of his hair into the portrait. It hangs in my living room over the fireplace in a place of honor and love.

    But! NC is just a methodology. It's a breather, a place-holding for our getting our feet under ourselves. IF we do nothing with it, it can just be...empty. I needed this relief from her and others to create, to use what I knew was down there deep. But! I also found a marvelous therapist and hand in hand she helped me keep on this path. NC is nothing unless you combine it with deep introspection and CHANGING your behaviors...It should be about YOU....and ultimately it comes so. These other folk that you have escaped? Well, they don't loom large in your daily life and that is a RELIEF!

    But you have to do the therapeutic work. Otherwise, you can flounder.

    You have to do the necessary work to save yourself. And it is so possible and so good when you do it. It doesn't mean you don't look back, you do, but it means that you are also going forward.

    And life is so damn worth the efforts!

    Love, LN...laughing at CS's comment about her mother's self-help book! ROTF!~!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "No Contact was the basis of growth for me." ~LadyNyo

      Yes, absolutely! Growth is knowing you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Growth is knowing you weren't put in this earth to be mistreated, abused, demeaned. Growth is standing up, showing up for yourself and using No Contact as a boundary. In the way you've defined your process separating from abusive family members to create a life of your own, No Contact was a realization that you were not obligated to be in relationship with someone who took advantage of your love. No Contact is growth in this definition because it may have taken years before someone valued their own life enough to challenge societal taboos and protect themselves by walking out of the abuser's life and into their own.

      I should have explained myself better when writing that No Contact was NOT growth. It has seemed to me after talking with people over the years, that people make the mistake of thinking "no contact" is the end of their story. People might even start out using No Contact "to punish" an offender because they are just that pissed off. A little time may soften their initial reactions, coupled with a lot of introspection and self-education. I know people make fun of self-help books and it depends on the style of self-help people are drawn to; but educating ourselves about basic mental health and psychological well-being is essential. If we grew up in narcissistic families, we won't know what to do because we did not learn what we needed to know to build healthy relationships with ourselves and others! So we must avail ourselves of trustworthy information and even therapeutic guidance.

      No Contact is a tool, but it's not growth. It can actually impede growth with the potential of increasing suffering. This is an aspect that needs discussion now that No Contact is the anti-dote to every relationship problem from high school break-ups to physical battering. Idealizing No Contact may reinforce anti-social behaviors which is no surprise in an increasingly narcissistic (individualized and lonely) society. That would be appropriation of a principle that was NOT intended to be used as punishment, control or coercion. I wonder how many people have instigated No Contact and blossomed as a result; and how many have instigated No Contact and suffered? At this point in my thinking, No Contact should have a disclaimer warning people about psychological side-effects of using No Contact. I would say from my experience (and I wrote this in the article), that people must make other connections with people of "good will" to assuage the normal-and-natural feelings arising when breaking connections with significant others (especially parents).

      People who bond on group hatred might help us initialize No Contact. The relationship is counter-productive though because the only way to stay together, is to hate together. Hate and punishment is the mission statement. When that person starts to feel safe in his/her skin, the growth process begins and then they'll be threatened with ostracism if they move away from hatred and punishment into acceptance and understanding. Just a thought...Birds of a feather flock together. If you don't want to be eaten, don't fly with vultures. LOLLOL...says CZ from her own sad experience.

      Delete
    2. CZ, I have enjoyed reading this discussion. In his book Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about separating from sinning brethren, not as a means of judgment, but as a tool of restoration. I wonder if anyone who has separated from an abusive person has later found that the abuser had truly changed during the separation and was producing the kind of deeds that demonstrated such a change.

      On that note, has anyone heard of Pat Conroy or seen or read The Great Santini? Mr. Conroy's own personal story is quite interesting.

      Delete
    3. Nice to have you join the conversation, anon!

      I witnessed the disastrous effects of disfellowship and excommunication, claiming these acts were "for the good" of the "separated". Authority figures (and groups) have their own agendas which they may fool themselves into believing are without judgment or reprimand, but.........

      When "This is for your own good" comes up, I cover my bum and hide under the bed!!

      What little I know about Bonhoeffer suggests he was a brilliant theologian. He was also a man of his time. In 2014, we know more about the effects of trauma than we did in 1945. Now we know "separation" is destructive to subjects and observers. The threat of separation (sanctions) may coerce people into conforming, hindering healthy individuation. Without veering into religious arguments which I am thoroughly unqualified to manage, I think social psychology and current trauma studies should call "traditional" practices into question.

      I listened to a lecture by Pat Conroy on YouTube after reading your comment. What a delightful speaker! As far as believing abusive people can be redeemed, I agree with Conroy. I have seen narcissistic people change but they were not ostracized for their own good, nor "separated" from the group. LIMITS and consequences were established and by adhering to a code-of-conduct, they were able to change overtime. I think that's because they managed to create and sustain longterm relationships that held them accountable and gave their lives: meaning and purpose; a sense of belonging and control; increased self-esteem. (Williams)

      Has anyone with a malignant narcissism changed? It's doubtful. Can narcissists change? Yes. Absolutely. Does exclusion change hearts? I don't think so. Other people might have different opinions or experiences which I am ALWAYS grateful to factor into my thinking.

      Hugs
      CZ

      Delete
    4. In case you read this thread again, anonymous: Thank You for telling me about Pat Conroy. After watching a couple of interviews with him, I ordered "The Death of the Great Santini" and it was an incredible experience! Maybe I'll post about it because the family dynamics are brilliant descriptions of the narcissistic family! Just superb, thank you!

      Delete
  15. Hi Lady N, I think I meant that going NC on its own, absent the other hard work, isn't a basis for growth. As a necessary precondition for doing that growing, that self-defining, it can be utterly life and spirit saving.

    CZ: Leave and Thrive: How to be Your Best No-Contact Self in Seven Easy Steps

    1) Scapegoat your daughter the easy way: for everything!
    2) Withholding, as an Art Form
    3) How to steal ideas and influence people
    4) Burning bridges, or, the uses of legal pads
    5) Blogging Bitter: for beginners
    6) Bloviating without Credentials
    7) Martyrdom, for Mothers


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahaha!!! Legal pads work like kindling, eh? Martyrdom for mothers? Are you telling me that "After Everything She Did For You", you dared complain about a little thing like plagiarism and triangulation? Where's your gratitude?!!

      Delete
  16. LOL! CS. I got ya. Going NC goes no where when there isn't some deep self-investigation. It's just a vehicle to 'get gone' from sometimes, a very dangerous situation...when it is.

    I found that you can't think straight, you can't work on yourself when you are deeply embroiled with a narcissist, or a pack of them. Think biting wolves, which is what a pack of them do. Mob behavior. And that is when NC becomes a very valuable vehicle to clear the stage for progress. But it must be followed up with a lot of introspection and some guidance by a good professional. I'm not saying that people can't heal themselves, but for me???? Nah. I fell back into the wolves clutches because I didn't value myself enough not to. Shit, when I think of what I did to pacify them??? makes me sick. And their 'approval' wasn't worth beans.

    I knew in my heart that I was better than this, and deserved better..even after a life-time of abuse. It just didn't add up. I knew that there was something 'good' and creative inside and I had to protect that. They dismissed everything I could do, and I just realized that they were....not the people I wanted to be around. I wanted peace.

    I don't prescribe that people do this without a guide..which in many cases is a therapist. However, people who have done a LOT of research over the years, or even a year, can make good decisions about NC and LC.

    On the advice of CZ today, I did google NC for opinions. I missed the 'bag 'em and tag 'em' sites on No Contact, but I did find one person who prescribed NC for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. Bullshit. When you do that, methinks it is a blanket condemnation, more of a revenge movement, and sometimes it is not necessary, and in fact hurts others. And sometimes it is necessary.

    Life is always a situation of choices...and NC gave me a choice to live and prosper. I took it as a life perserver thrown in a roiling sea. I really believe that I would have drowned had I not. you certainly understand, CS.

    Love, Jane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I found that you can't think straight, you can't work on yourself when you are deeply embroiled with a narcissist, or a pack of them. Think biting wolves, which is what a pack of them do. Mob behavior. And that is when NC becomes a very valuable vehicle to clear the stage for progress." ~Jane

      This is an excellent point. Narcissistic families relish in causing emotional turbulence, feeling most alive during drama, creating pseudo intimacy through back-biting, triangulation and gossiping, while mind-reading and splitting (she's totally evil and he's an angel), only fueling midnight obsessions and cognitive dissonance.There is no peace or safety for family members. When your mind is churning without resolution and your heart is heavy, continued contact is more detrimental than the miseries of No Contact.

      Delete
  17. Well said, CZ. I found that the miseries of continued contact over 4 decades was much worse than the uncertainly of the first year or so of NC. The problem with NC is that most of us who do this are isolated. We get advice from therapists, priests (actually, an old Episcopal priest suggested this to me, and boy was I shocked! He was the first person to seriously suggest that I detach from this very dsyfunctional family, and cut all communications with not only my mother, but also the foos! He, blessed man, was way ahead of his time, but as I got to know him, he was also one of the most compassionate and far-reaching intellectuals I have ever known. He retired from St. Lukes and I still miss him. About 4 years ago my husband had serious prostate surgery and this priest came to our house, blessed every room on purpose as he walked through the house, even the dog houses! LOL! and took confession from my husband out in the front yard. He was a breath of fresh air.)

    We are all different, but I want to stress something that prehaps will give comfort and hope to those who are thinking about NC or are on this path very recently.

    When I had a chance to stop the tapes in my head by absencing myself from the drama/trauma of this family, I found that I had so much more energy. This was because I was told that I was clinically depressed probably for my whole life. I am diabetic, and also my health improved. Actually, this happened because I started to value myself and stop emotional eating...sort of. LOL! I also made better choices for myself. Finally I put myself and my future ahead of all this crap that dragged me down. Not that my family cared about my health..my youngest brother had a stroke at 50 and went blind for a while...it was rampant diabetes. He carried the abuse of my mother for many years because she moved to his city so 'they could take care of her.' Of course there were benefits (money, etc) from this, but I think overall, he also suffered from her narcissism. He gave up the struggle against her but then it would be very hard faced with this 'mother' almost daily. She pointedly said that she didn't believe that I was diabetic. LOL!

    The point I am trying to make is this: We are responsible for our own health and wellbeing. We have suffered a life-time of abuse, but we have within ourselves the tools to stop it and reform our lives. When I started applying myself to myself....my health and my interests, they snowballed. I had so much energy, but more...confidence, that I just...well, I found a new lease on life. And rivers of creativity that I hadn't known were within. And my marriage. My husband suffered from being near this trauma/drama with my foos and mother, and it weighed him down mentally, too.

    And when we apply our energies to ourself and not to these corrupted (in the heart) others, we are changed. We have more than enough to give out to the world...to others who deserve our love, compassion, money. What we can give. I was so surprised at this because I never expected these things to happen just by walking away and taking charge of my recovery.

    And something else recently happened. One sisterinlaw, who I was close to years ago, has reached out and called me a couple of times over the past week. She said that she was proud of me, for the poetry, for the books. Something I never expected to hear (and haven't) from that side of the family. This was lovely, but I think it is because perhaps she is coming to a realization that as much as she prays for a change in her motherinlaw....it ain't gonna happen. It took her 40 years to understand this, but I can't give any other explanation for her recent 'reach out and touch' behavior. LOL!

    In any case, this site and a few others (mostly of the people who post here) have been a great help in my own recovery and revitalization. It's all about the choices we make for ourselves.

    Love, LN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for that, LadyNo. Beautifully said as always. Stepping out of their lives and into our own is a possibility when we use No Contact. As long as we are mired in the daily drama, our focus is on "them", not ourselves! Add up all the hours you've spent talking about, crying about, writing about your narcissistic family. You'll break down and weep for the wasted years spent 'securing' a loving bond with people who can't love or bond.

      The tragedy is that we're so occupied by 'crazy family drama', that there's no time or energy left for other relationships that could be fulfilling and meaningful. There is no peace and no trust in the narcissistic family. Invite everyone to dinner and watch the conflict begin! Someone will take it personally if you forget to cross the letter "T", insisting it's a sign you don't want Theodore or Theresa to visit. You insulted their integrity on purpose!.

      Cut and paste a cornucopia image on your Thanksgiving dinner invitation and expect a lawsuit for calling your sister a 'fruitcake'. As I expressed to Jessie up-thread, there is no "benefit of the doubt" nor "good will" extended. Any perceived criticism is a done deal. On the next Thanksgiving, roast yourself a turkey and bake a pie and be grateful for holidays when the only drama is the movie on your iPad.

      Love, CZ

      Delete
  18. this is has really opened my eyes to understand why my ex did not feel the need to apologize or even acknowledge the fact that he was cheating on me. When I asked him and showed him proof he kept denying it. I finally decided that it was time to end it. When I broke up with him he was acting like the victim saying things like he should have never taken me back. This was our third go at the relationship. He "forgot" that he was the one that came looking for me after a year of NC. Then he said he didnt believe in love again. Mind you that same day he was on the other womans FB page telling her he couldnt wait to see her again. I didnt understand his behavior. I was so confused and lost weight and couldnt eat and sleep. Its been 4 months since the breakup and its been 6 weeks since I went NC. He contacted me yesterday casually informing me that he was with the other woman over the past few weeks and passivly asked me how my beautiful family was doing. I ignored the text of course. I refuse to get sucked in or be part of his hirem of exes. My NC is forever. I don't want to have anything to do with him. I am so glad we never got married. I spent five years waiting for him to propose. It never came. He always had a reason why I was not good enough or there was something that I needed to work on and when I did he will move the target post again and come up with something. I would leave he would come after me that he had "changed" and he is serious this time.
    I'm spending this time working on my self esteem and I am realizing that he didnt deserve me and I feel sorry for his next victim.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sandy Pants! After three attempts to save the relationship, it's time to let it go. He says he doesn't believe in love but he's still looking for partners in the guise of "love". Maybe what he's saying is that he doesn't believe in YOUR interpretation of love since it likely includes fidelity, commitment, responsibility.

      Some narcissists have insisted they no longer believed in MARRIAGE even though they'd been married for years. They end the marriage pontificating on the obsolescence of the marital contract and then the next damn thing you know, they're married again! These folks are not trustworthy partners if what you want is a relationship you can trust, someone you can grow old with. When their beliefs are as fickle as their current paramour, their love has no value to anyone but themselves.

      You will do well using No Contact to protect you from a guy who changes his beliefs to fit what he wants at the moment. You've spent five years waiting for him and instead of him questioning his inability to commit, he blames his resistance on you. No Contact, SandyPants...stick with your plan!

      Hugs and good luck,
      CZ

      Delete
  19. And that is exactly it, Sandy Pants....HE didn't deserve YOU. Work on making yourself fulfilled and happy. That is the only way to go...don't let him 'rent' space in your head, your thoughts. It is hard in the beginning, but the benefits of NC are wonderful. It's a solid wall that you surround yourself with confidence and comfort (and some cupcakes when needed). It changed my life...no, it SAVED my life. He doesn't deserve the 'grief'.

    Love, LN

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi CZ,
    This is a great post! I like how you approach a difficult and delicate subject from a 360 approach and it connected with me deeply. All of which helps to challenge the behaviours I have taken.

    I think that my natural default is to fall into silent treatment. There were two modes during my childhood. Anger expressed by my mother (yelling at me) or her episodes of silent treatment. And this was how I responded to her. When she attacked I either attacked back or would go to my room and sit there until the next morning for school. And I understand more of why my response was to be in no contact.

    I think no contact is a very serious decision. I felt I was being cruel and at the same time, saving myself. My mother's words of worthless were leading me to thoughts of suicide. And even with the knowledge that I did this for self-preservation it does not take away or cancel out the cruelty in which I treated them - especially towards my father. I had to face my own cruelty. I am capable of being cruel and at the same time that is what makes me human, imperfect. I am all parts cruel and kind. (I'm not saying this for sympathy or reassurance). It is what going through it and looking back on it from your post has helped me to intellectually realise.

    I found this post helpful in reflecting on my own actions and thank you for writing about it in a compassionate way. xxTR

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi TR! Thanks for recognizing the difficulty of writing about No Contact as potentially hurtful and inappropriate. It's comforting to know compassion is coming through my writing, which is my intent. Even if we catch ourselves using No Contact to hurt someone, berating ourselves perpetuates the abuse we're trying to escape.

      Having compassion for our ability to be both kind and cruel, is a significant change from the self-berating criticism learned in a narcissistic family. Or the denial; i.e.: "I am never cruel or unkind". Bearing the tension of opposites in admitting we can be cruel while also having the capacity for kindness, is most honest and most healing. It takes us out of the victim trap instead of lying to ourselves about being perpetually kind, never cruel. I appreciate your usage of "And" instead of "Or." Cruel AND kind. Hopefully more kind than cruel but we have the capacity for either and that's the truth of human nature.

      TR wrote: "I felt I was being cruel and at the same time, saving myself. My mother's words of worthless were leading me to thoughts of suicide."

      Thank you for sharing this...it is the same conundrum faced in my life---reducing contact or dying an emotional death, a spiritual death. Sounds dramatic putting it that way but not to those who faced a similar dilemma. When the abuse continues unabated, despite our protests, despite our attempts to set limits/boundaries and invite respectful relationship, then we must protect ourselves by reducing contact. It's the kindest thing we can do when someone cannot stop him/herself from hurting us/others. Maybe it's an example of compassion even---depending on whether we're preserving world peace, or starting a No Contact war!

      When I reduced contact with my family-of-origin, desperate might be a good description; but definitely naive about the lifelong implications my unkindness would have on me. We can reduce contact (or end contact) without heaping blame and punishment on others or ourselves because some of my behaviors continue to haunt me--even thirty years later. I followed pop-psychology's advice at the time since everyone was convinced sending letters to family members about our pain-and-suffering was the "right thing to do." If all my blog does is get people to QUESTION the advice-of-the-day, then I've done a good thing---passing on my wisdom after three decades undoing the damage done to myself by myself. I do hope readers will consider how they might feel in a year, five years, ten years. Self-righteousness is so seductive when our "aggressive" instincts are supported (or even encouraged) by psychologists and pop-psychology of the day. Boo hiss! Think critically! Be True to You.

      With my X, when it came time to choose my mental health and spiritual well-being, I was kind. Much kinder, much more aware of the repercussions I would suffer for behaving in cruel and punishing ways. Each person has to ask themselves what they can live with and then act in accordance with their moral conscience. This is not a judgment or comparison, for who can say what anyone needs to do to protect themselves? Narcissists can be highly aggressive and dangerously abusive which mandates inflexible No Contact.

      But don't do it cruel. That I suppose, is the heart of my message.

      Hugs
      CZ

      Delete
    2. I think desperate and naive is a good way to describe the situation I was in also. Like you, my decision does haunt me and I suspect it will continue to, not knowing how much of it impacted my father's emotional health and then his physical health. I think about if it was a trade-off - my health for his. And I know, intellectually, that I had to be kind to myself. That is a good point - "each person has to ask themselves what they can live with and then act in accordance with their moral conscience." I can, literally and figuratively, live with the choice I made.

      The heart of your message was written well and thank you for your kind words in your comment to me. Hugs, TR

      Delete
  21. When I decided to go no contact with most of my N paternal relatives because of their toxic behaviors, I never saw it as a way to punish them. I saw it as the final decision in what had been a slow estrangement process over the years, starting from when I was in middle childhood, when my mom started to limit contact with them and then eventually went no contact. I finally went no contact with them in 2008, and I haven't regretted that decision. I recognized that those family members would most likely feel hurt and rejected by that decision, but after much consideration, I knew that it was the best thing for me to do. I had just had my daughter and I didn't want them having contact with her and tainting her with their subtle digs, the way they had treated me when I was a child and teenager. I also recognized that my no contact decision came at a time that might have seemed very selfish on my part because those relatives had just helped my bf and I to get baby necessities during my pregnancy. But once my daughter was born, and I thought about how those relatives might treat her, I realized that going no contact was the best thing to do for me and my family. Yes, they had helped me with baby purchases and had checked in with me via phone calls throughout my pregnancy, but I also recognized that their help was a way to ingratiate themselves and make themselves feel as though they were needed. Since going no contact, I barely think about those relatives. At the time that I made my decision, I knew that there were also a couple of paternal relatives that I wanted to remain in contact with because they had always treated me fairly, and I'm satisfied with only having contact with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi burningcandles!

      It's good to hear that No Contact wasn't a method for punishing other people...that says something lovely about your character. <3 Your estrangement was a slow process, probably having given family members second and third and numerous chances to respect your boundaries. It sounds like people kinda drifted apart rather than causing a huge rift declaring "no contact."

      People can appear to be supportive and they might "intend" to create a loving and healthy relationship longterm. But the questions remain: do they respect your boundaries? Do they hurt you? We used to put up with some hurtful behavior in order to keep families together but today, now that people can provide for themselves, we aren't as willing to tolerate Uncle Bob's cruel comments or Aunt Sally's aggression. Or her nasty jello. ha!

      It sounds like you're completely comfortable with separating yourself from family members and it sounds like they've left you alone. The horrible issue some people face is when their wishes are not respected and narcissistic family members continue harassing them. I am glad to hear that you are taking care of your family to the best of your abilities and willing to do a 'hard thing' if that means protecting your children.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    2. "It's good to hear that No Contact wasn't a method for punishing other people...that says something lovely about your character. <3 Your estrangement was a slow process, probably having given family members second and third and numerous chances to respect your boundaries. It sounds like people kinda drifted apart rather than causing a huge rift declaring "no contact." "

      Thank you for the compliment, CZ. Yes, when I decided to cut contact with my paternal relatives, the thought of punishment never crossed my mind. And truthfully, at that time, I didn't know about boundaries or putting up boundaries and acting assertively the way that I do now. At the time that I decided to end contact with my relatives, I just knew as I said before that I didn't want them treating my daughter the way that they had treated me when I was growing up when I was often in their care. By making that decision, I didn't realize that I was putting up the ultimate boundary until much later when I started reading up on assertive communication and constructive ways of handling difficult people. So in my case, I took the action and then later on realized what I had actually done. I think that it was somewhat "easy" for me to end contact with them, because of a few reasons. First, I grew up in a family in which estrangement from other family members was actually the norm and not the exception to the rule. For a lot of my growing up, I barely spent time with my maternal relatives because my mother and a couple of her brothers often did not get along, so there were long periods of time when my mom just did not communicate with a lot of people on her side of the family. So the norm for me was to NOT interact with relatives. Then when my mom decided that she did not want to spend a lot of time around my father's side of the family because of behaviors that she did not like on their part, that made the amount of family members that I actually saw and stayed in contact with very small. Even though my mom ended communication with my father's side of the family, there were still times over the years when I had the opportunity to see them and spend time with them, since my mom did not ban me from seeing them even though she didn't want to deal with them. When I did see them, I completely understood why my mom had ended contact with them, since I often felt uncomfortable around them as well, because of their undermining comments and cruel gossip, busy body ways.

      Another reason why I think that I did not find it very hard to end contact with my paternal relatives is because I am an introvert. As with introverts, we are often satisfied with just interacting with a few people, whether those people are family members/friends/coworkers, etc. Off course I don't know if this is true of a lot of introverts, but I do think that it plays a role in how I personally view the act of connecting with other people and how much connection I actually value with those people.

      I think I struggled more with the decision of going no contact with someone when it got to that point with my N dad. He is a gambling addict and a highly narcissistic one at that, so after a while, staying in contact with him just didn't make much sense. There was a period of time just before cutting contact with him that I was just so sick of dealing with him and the things he had to say, that when I finally told him off and cut contact, it was a relief to me. I'm at a point where I don't feel much of anything when it comes to him. He's made his choices and I've made mine, and I'm fine with the state of our relationship.

      Delete
    3. The way you handled everything sounds reasonable and healthy. A realization of your worth and value as a human being---and your right to protect your child from abusive family members. Just because people are related, doesn't mean we can't have standards. We wouldn't hang out with strangers who were nasty to us so why is it okay to subject ourselves and our children to nasty relatives?

      I'm sorry about your Dad. Sometimes it's even harder to use No Contact when a parent suffers an addiction. The guilt and 'desire to help' can be overwhelming to ACoNs. It sounds like you've been through a lot with your Dad and I'm so sorry you finally had to end the relationship. You sound really clear though, and comfortable with your decisions. Thank you so much for explaining more about the reasons why you've used No Contact and how it has impacted your life FOR the BETTER.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  22. Excellent! I LOVE this:

    No Contact is an extreme method for cutting emotional ties to someone who treats you with contempt. Persistent invalidation will, over time, erode your self-esteem. No human being is immune to feeling worthless when they are consistently rejected, criticized, excluded, neglected, and scapegoated for blame. Reducing time spent with people who build themselves up by tearing others down, is self-protective.

    Self-protection is the goal of No Contact.

    This is so clear! I wondered, when I started reading the article, why N's would take over this concept - most of us would be delighted if they'd stop trying to have contact with us - but I see that it's just another way to manipulate other people into thinking us the aggressors and them the victims... Makes sense. I've been No Contact with three Nsibs for 2 1/2 years and it's been thoroughly wonderful. My life is significantly less stressful and really, they rarely cross my mind anymore. Ah...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Toto! Thanks for commenting. I am tickled to pieces that I wrote something very brief and very clear. ha! Usually it takes about ten paragraphs to get to my point and I dearly love all readers who are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt. For some of us, its really hard to put the things we "know" into words.

      Why would narcissists use No Contact against others? To Hurt Them. Another thing to remember is that narcissists do not know they are narcissists. They believe themselves to be valid victims of other people's aggression. One way to check ourselves and ask whether or not we're behaving in a narcissistic manner is questioning our motive for No Contact. If we want to hurt someone, ostracize and break them, then maybe we oughta take a second look at "our" aggression.

      Things can get pretty heated in the narcissistic relationship as you already know with narcissistic siblings. The drama and backbiting and "plotting" is so exhausting it infects the whole of your life. When your energy is spent defending yourself from character assassination and lies, your personal relationships suffer. We can't spend our time talking about narcissists ad nausea with people we hope to create a good relationship with! They will tire of us and we will tire of us. If there is no way to resolve the animosity and set firm boundaries on aggression, then No Contact is our best hope for peace and loving relationships.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  23. Toto, I agree. Self-protection is the immediate aim of NC. However, once you get your feet under you, because the behavior of Ns and foos are so debilitating, and this can last a life time....the next step is self-realization.
    If I was honest with myself, (and others)...I would have to admit that this 'trying to win her love' went on for 5 decades. Nothing was enough: the paintings, the embroidered quilts, the pillows, the hand made nightgown of raw cotton, etc. nothing, even the fur coat I bought for her with money I should have spent on our young son, was never enough. These people are vampires: they drink down what they can get from you and then cast you aside.

    When I went NC, I had a lot of skills behind me that I just didn't see as worth much. They were in the real world, but trying to win the love, to please this mother clouded everything. It was not a normal or real world around her: I was always subject to her whims, and her cruelties, her what amounts to emotional sadism. It took me a year or two to understand that my talents were real, were appreciated by others, and that just because they weren't by this woman, it didn't mean that they or I wasn't worthy. I had to rearrange my concepts of myself, and so many other things, because we are really screwed in the head when we are subject to extreme narcissists. It twists up our own wiring. We need time and help to untwist stuff.

    My foos, the two brothers, the sisterinlaws....they are just...well, carbon copies of the Mother. And they do not acknowledge anything that I have accomplished....It's like I am a ghost, I am invisible. This is the value that they have placed on me.

    And this was the value I had for myself for so many decades. And why I allowed other narcissists to abuse me, in the work place, in 'friendships', in so many areas. Now?

    Well, I have developed a hair trigger when it concerns narcissists. I would rather be alone than subject myself, my remaining years to such people. At times, I feel a violence rising up in me towards them, but I know this isn't productive for ME.
    Ns never change. NEVER CHANGE. They have no reason to do so because they are rarely challenged, and in any case, they think the rest of the world is screwed, not them. They never take responsibility for their behavior regardless how horrendous it is to others.

    NC is serious business....but it is a course of action like a serious cancer surgery: you have to cut out that cancer that will ultimately destroy you. You have to close the door to these family vampires who would show no compassion because they ain't got none. Your life will be so much better, and you will be a more 'complete' human being.

    LN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When adults still trying to please their parents, it's a sign they grew up in a narcissistic family where roles were reversed. Parents expected to be served and "taken care of" when the natural order of things is for parents to take care of their children's needs. That you spent money on your mother instead of your family, is heart-breaking! Had she been a normal mother, she'd have returned the fur coat and told you to get your priorities in order. But had she been a normal mother, you'd never have bought her a fur coat. My kids give me books if that tells you anything. :-)

      There are two different situations falling under No Contact that might require different approaches. One situation is the narcissistic partner/spouse being treated as though s/he were a psychological terrorist; then there's the narcissistic pareNt who might be a psychological terrorist.

      No Contact really came into play with narcissistic partners. Cutting them out of our lives is not as potentially damaging as ending relationship with a narcissistic pareNt. The ties that bind us to family run deep and we must prepare ourselves psychologically, which is what you have done LN and are still doing with therapy.

      When people hear No Contact and believe it's an easy solution, they may be caught by surprise when unconscious fears increase their anxiety. That some people are debilitated with anxiety after declaring No Contact is another reason why I felt this post needed to be written. What could be worse than declaring No Contact and then going back on our word? Returning to the family after such a declaration, wounds our self-esteem and empowers the narcissist. Narcissistic family members might even ridicule us as a result and our self-esteem will drop to devastating lows. No Contact must be taken seriously and it is NOT an easy answer.

      I think everyone would benefit from therapy if they grew up in a narcissistic family. Therapists can help their clients make appropriate decisions that will be in their best interests--whether Low or No Contact. We are each unique in our ability to tolerate relationships that aren't intimacy-friendly and some people manage narcissistic families with relative ease while other people can't bear even a family reunion once every five years. We have to know our limits and respect whatever our limits might be.

      Delete
  24. it is Earth Day 2014. I was writing a poem about "Motherless Children" but then decided that I have the best Mother I could have and have always had, just didn't see her. Mother Earth, where I can lay my head on her breast in the grass, where my pale limbs are comforted by her contours, where I am nurtured by her beauty and bounty, where I draw substanence from her soil and where I know she will never reject me but is there waiting patiently for my tears and expressions of joy. And when I die, whether I am ash or dust, I will return to her womb and know that I am loved.

    Happy Earth Day everyone here!

    Jane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a beautiful comment to read today, LadyNyo! Happy Earth Day to you, too!

      The Earth Day poem you published on your blog today is just wonderful. I hope you're okay with me positing a link in case other people would like to read it:

      http://ladynyo.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/earth-day-2014/#comment-12100

      Connecting to Mother Earth is so grounding---something you and I both understand with our love for gardens. Digging bare hands in soil makes me feel real again, reminding me of my rightful place in this world---neither too big or too small but just right.

      Love,
      CZ


      Delete
  25. Thank you, CZ, for the link, and of course I am delighted that you did so.

    Yes, we both, and so many others here know that grounding feeling with Mother Earth. We are precious to Her, and we give back with our gardens, our energies and especially our gratitude.

    We are her children.

    Love,

    Jane.....PS: my husband tells me now that I missed Earth Day by one day. LOL! So it goes....

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great article -this hits home in so many ways. My ex recently declared a "No Contact" rule against me. She's declared a no contact rule with many others during the course of our marraige and it never crossed my mind that she would eventually hit me with one. I should have seen the writing on the wall but...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make an excellent point! While composing lists of Red Flags, we should include the question, "How many times has this person used No Contact to 'cut off' relationship?"

      I heard about someone using No Contact against a family member for a decade! The original trespass was ludicrous---people without a narcissistic disorder would have resolved the conflict in three days tops. This No Contact situation lasted years and years, to the shame of the entire family that allowed it to continue. I figure most people don't know what to do about the stand-off. I will say from my experience that the reason given for using No Contact is trivial--beyond credibility. And that's why we assume they aren't telling us everything so we fill in the blanks for them. I've seen people go No Contact over a "perceived insult" without attempting to reconcile!

      You are not alone in watching someone use No Contact and then having it used against ourselves. I was not offered a chance to explain myself, nor counter (what I thought were preposterous) allegations. It didn't stop with the woman who declared No Contact against me. She enlisted legions of "flying monkeys" to support her side of the story. It's a crushing experience and that is why I wanted to write about No Contact as an abuse tactic because it is. It can be.

      Forgive yourself for not seeing the writing on the walls. We are all in a steep learning curve concerning pathological behaviors. Who knew? Now we know and now we can take better care of ourselves and our families.

      p.s. I expect women will be even more inclined to use No Contact than men, yet the majority of people posting comments on this article have been women. Assuming you are male (and you might not be!) thanks for posting! I had hoped to hear from men who'd been subjected to "appropriated" No Contact.

      Hugs
      CZ

      Delete
    2. Hi CZ, To answer your Question: My ex had used the "No Contact" to a few family memebers in the course of our marriage/relationship (18 yrs) One she had for the entire 18 yrs that I was with her and may still have it. I never really got a good explaination as to why. I am a man and it took me until after my divorce which has now been one yr to realize I had been married to an N. She was the one who filed for divorce and I never got a good explaination for that either. All but I always had this feeling she was trying to punish me for something.

      Thanks,

      Delete
  27. One person, who I talk about all the time went no contact for no reason. I just simply wasn't needed and stopped talking to me and responding my messages and just caring. It made me extra needy and so I went to another friend of mine for comfort...

    and then she went no contact on me..

    Me and my friend had a fight, over a bunch of reasons and SHE stopped talking to me. No message about when or why or not wanting to hurt me by saying something rude or comfort. Just nothing then she came back, said her depiction of events and didn't even ask for my side of the story and believe me there is a side worth hearing.

    I think we maybe can reconcile, but we need a both way mutual conversation and discussion. I need to evolve as does she.

    ReplyDelete
  28. (same anon as right above) Both of those Non Contact attacks made me focus on my self growth so much. To both of those people I was a Function, a Tool, not a person. I've spent the last little while relearning how it is to be me and be a person and remember what I want matters too. I also re asserted my self image from somd sort of Life Assistant to Who I Actually Am..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ending relationships motivates most people to examine themselves. This is a good thing for the most part, as long as we aren't being overly critical and cruel to ourselves. After a narcissistic relationship, many of us dwell on the accusations and blame we experienced in the relationship. That's not-so-good. Sorting out what our 'true' problems might be from the problems/defects we were accused of, takes time.

      It's horrible realizing you were a "tool" or a "function", isn't it? Being easily replaced, dismissed, ignored and wiped out of existence is annihilating. It's very hard on our self-esteem, especially if we value relationships. Still, we need to understand what happened in the relationship and what we might do to prevent a repeat performance. This is how we mature overtime, I think. It's nice to hear that you've used your "no contact" time to discover who you are and affirm that indeed, you matter!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  29. CZ -- This is the best article I've read about the real dynamics of No Contact. I think Low Contact is often a better option for the very reasons you state (that most of us are relational beings) and that No Contact is most appropriate for the worst situations when someone refuses to stop being toxic in interactions with us.

    ReplyDelete
  30. It doesn't always happen that the narcissist gets the victory over the victim. I was lucky he found someone new. I laid low and didn't fall into his traps. It hurt very badly and I did tell people because I wasn't ashamed I tried and fell in love. He and I live in the same neighborhood. People came to me and told me they were glad I was free. I have cried and even tried to talk to him. He is cold and doing silent treatment. I even told him he won and what is HE so mad about. Anyway it is week 8 or so and I am recovering slowly, surely.
    I was lonely and really wished it could have worked. My advice is be honest. Some people will help you get over it. The narcissist can't always fool everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      It sounds like you have a healthy sense of self. You know who you are and trust that your true character will outlive his rejection. No one can be in a narcissistic relationship for very long, without losing some self-confidence or self-worth. That you got out early is a good thing, a GREAT thing and you can count your lucky stars that you still like yourself.

      You are right that some people will help you get over it. Stay away from those that offer "helpful criticism" or blame you for x, y, or z. Avoid listening to relationship advice from people who've never dealt with narcissists.

      I am sorry to hear that you've suffered a narcissist's Devalue-and-Discard, a psychologically damaging experience. If you are also subjected to a punishing "No Contact" experience, you can feel completely crazy! Especially if you've never gone through anything like that before. The sudden "cold shoulder" and yes, DISDAIN is shocking. Makes our heads spin for awhile.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  31. I just wish they'd tell me why, why build such a strong "friendship" to implode it over, essentially, not being forced upon each other every day. (I say "Friendship" cuz she was bad for me and my perception of my reality. she fed on my anxiety's/self destruction) If I was so throw away why waste my precious time build/faking a connection? I could've spent that time with other making more understanding friendships? I would've had more classmates and buddies?

    It always comes down to Why? Why go "No contact", and never tell why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the narcissism, anonymous. Ending a relationship without even trying to work out the problems, is a bad sign. It hints of "Narcissism". In other words, the ONLY thing that mattered was HER feelings without consideration for yours, or the pain you would suffer in wondering why she ended things. It sounds to me like she used NO CONTACT to punish you and it has worked, hasn't it? You are still thinking about why and "how come" just like everyone else who's been tortured by "no contact".

      I think it's a cruel thing to do so someone and would require a serious lack of empathy. So unless she had very low self-esteem and didn't think you would miss her (NOT likely, right?), she was probably only thinking about herself. I'm making a lot of assumptions in my reply but wanted you to know that the pain you are experiencing is "normal." When relationships end suddenly without recourse or effort, it makes our minds "tilt" and we will naturally obsess more and maybe even hurt more inside because we don't understand why.

      While we are digging up reasons as to why someone left, our demons rise up to criticize us. Don't let your inner critic beat you up. She left without the courtesy of discussion because all of a sudden, she was 'done' with your friendship and you probably didn't do ANYTHING to cause this.

      Most of us have regretted spending our lives in a relationship that ended up hurting us. It takes time getting over the cruel ending...but we survive and even thrive as we make new and healthier connections with people who ARE capable of loving us back.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  32. Thank you so much for writing this! Someone who I thought was my best friend has had me on a merry-go-round of verbal abuse, then no contact (when I defend myself), then apology, repeat cycle. I finally recognized the pattern and began reading about narcissistic behaviors. Reading and recognizing how NC has been used as punishment and tool for coercion is liberating. I only fear the smear campaign in retaliation when I maintain the NC rule. They seem to prey on fear and weakness. It's terrible when the patience and acceptance that comes with genuine friendship is viewed as a weakness or used as leverage for manipulation. What a bummer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous! Long-lasting relationships ARE hard work and I've been seeing a lot of people use No Contact to end a dispute, a way to protect their egos. Misusing No Contact (hiding behind No Contact) delays maturation and limits the development of an honorable character.

      I'm sorry you've been treated this way and I hope you find some peace over what happened. Many of us have lived through "The Smear Campaign" and while it's not the funnest experience in the world, it's better than walking on eggshells!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  33. Just found this great post after being shouted at last night for the umpteenth time (3 in one week) "Don't call me again ever! Don't come by the house. Don't, don't don't..." As usual this was because I was "bad" and dared to speak up and try to defend myself when being accused of whatever it was that made my guy so mad. "I have buttons and when you push one, I can't help myself." A 70+ man throwing a tantrum is a sight to see.

    We are not kids. We were in love with each other years ago but ended up in different places, and reconnected last year. We decided to try to be together finally now that we were both single after so long. For reasons I now question, I moved to his town and am a complete stranger here. He "couldn't" move and now that I understand more, I know a big part of that was his need to control everything including the environment. I realize moving was a foolish thing to do. What I didn't realize is that this is not the man I once loved. He resents everything about me and earlier this week told me there was "no upside" to being with me, the latest way of telling me how little I count.

    In the months since I got here, I've found my own nice place and am slowly building a life on my own. I have emotionally disconnected from him but we had plans to go hear music last night so I said okay. We have basically maintained a "low contact" situation. During the evening, though, I offended him once again and when we got back to my apartment we sat in the parking lot while he railed at me about what a terrible person I am, etc. I was getting out of the car and he kept ranting. This time was different however. Neither of us realized that there were people just beyond the car in the apartment courtyard. When I walked away, he continued shouting at me to never call, we're done, etc. I was surprised to see people, people who heard him, were concerned about what was happening, who waited to be sure I was okay.

    He didn't know they were there, I'm sure. But I did. And here's what I want to say about this: Knowing that others were concerned for me made me realize how bad this was. Yes, it validated my knowledge that he was out of control, but more than that, it gave me the courage to say to myself as I walked to my door, "No need to worry, my friend. I will never again call or take your calls or let myself believe that there's any hope things will get better."

    Low contact is no longer enough here. He initiates "No contact" as punishment. I'm initiating it as self-preservation.

    Thanks for your always good notes on a difficult subject.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No Upside to being with you? He's not only telling you how little you count, my friend. He's telling you that he measures your value by what he gets. I suppose that would be fine if he gave what he got but these kinds of men don't even do that. They give an inch, expecting a mile. They give a crumb expecting the cake. They give very very little and they give so little very very often TO THE POINT we are grateful for their crumbs and inches. We overblow the value of their crumbs and inches to comfort ourselves that we've made the right decision.

      Something I've learned about gambling: when you're losing, Give Up. Don't keep throwing time and money betting on a win to justify prior investments. If women would Give Up earlier, many of us wouldn't be living on pennies when we're old. And that is the sad truth. We keep giving in the belief things will work out and while it's not pathological to think that way (we're socialized to behave this way), it's NOT in our best interests. He's told you that he's keeping score and so far, he's not getting what he bargained for when he got:

      1) You to move and incur the costs and losses of doing that. Which you probably know already, makes you more desperate for the relationship to work.

      2) He's relying on romantic youthful feelings to disguise his immaturity as an older man. Who he is today is who he always was, only more. He is the culmination of 70 years of choices which leads me to think he's been serving himself at women's expense. He expects them to meet his needs which is why his NARCISSISTIC comment about "no upside" makes my skin crawl.

      You honored your past relationship with him by giving him a chance to be your friend. You are no longer under any obligation to be his friend, his lover, his punching bag. I'm so glad you are initiating "no contact" to protect yourself. This guy is bad news.

      And p.s. We cannot intuit who these ragers might be until they "tip their hand" and show us. Even then, our emotional investment in the relationship encourages us to give them a second chance, a third. Most people are so confused by the sudden rage/attach that they give the person the "benefit of the doubt" instead of taking action and walking away. Most people I've ever known who Lash Out in anger, have been dubious friends and you cannot know that until they do that.

      By age 70, there's very little hope of him getting any better and certainly not if he isn't getting treatment and continues to blame others for being at fault, or inadequate.

      Thanks for reading...come back and let me know how things are going for you!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  34. Thank you for an excellent article.

    An important principle in our Justice system is that the accused has the right to face their accusor and prove their innocence. When this is not respected, scapegoating will result.






    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, short and brilliant, anonymous! Manipulators know how to 'work it' so the accused never has his/her day in court. Listeners are persuaded to protect the accuser's anonymity, trapping themselves in a web of lies---never realizing the same action will be taken against them should they be so foolish as to offend the narcissist.

      The whole game comes down in a secret manner, bonding listeners to the narcissist in a scapegoating bond that is based on denigrating the absent party. Central to "the game" is alienating the target from former friends, family, co-workers etc. by exaggerating (or telling complete lies) about what the victim "supposedly" said about the listener. And let's not forget what the narcissist promises to deliver to his/her rapt audience.

      When the accused is denied the right to face his/her accuser, scapegoating results. Yes. Thanks for that!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  35. This notion that no contact can come to work against you I think it true - I maintain no contact from the narcissist - it took a while to realise I had to and that time was about the most damaging to me - but I do now and so that part is under control as much as is in my gift...

    in order to maintain this I have found that I could not take part in a sport I loved - I tried but was too anxious and as the sport is hang gliding - not being free in my mind means its really not safe much less fun to fly my glider...

    the narcissist did a very simple thing - he made another google group - moved all our peers there and then excluded me from it - I doubt he is smart enough to have thought things through but the result is I have lost contact with the other pilots - I tried to reintegrate myself but the narcissist followed me onto psychopathfree a support forum - he copied my introduction and posted it on all the shared forums relating to hang gliding... so I was excluded again this time by one of his sidekicks and this time consciously and so more finally feeling...

    this is the status quo - I am sure that if I had been able to take part in day to day chatting with the others and maintain low contact with the narcissist the whole things would be a distant memory now - but that is not the case... no contact is manifested by this exclusion and now I judge that flying hang gliders - beautiful and freeing that it is - something I love deeply - is simply not so much fun - it causes me pain and anxiety and so I come to think it is best that I stop

    so in this no contact has worked against me - I do doubt however that the narcissist is clever enough to have seen this result - he is dumb and too concerned with himself - he is however vigilant and even though this all happened a year ago and in all is more than two years old he keeps returning to read my blogs

    I understand it as a basic fear on his part - the narcissist basically is not strong enough within himself to cope with someone with critical opinions relating to him - he once made a youtube video of our relationship and called it - Good v Evil - I reflected on this the other day and realised that this theme is how he conceives of me in his life - an evil other - so the exclusion is him hiding from me rather than exclusion it is protection...

    narcissism - his grandiosity - the group and his place in it are all to create something he has no faith in - his own self - its sad on some level that he would be that troubled but in the end it is pathetic that he would have so little inner strength...

    I pity all who are around him - his wife in particular, I fear for her wellbeing...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. silkred wrote: "this is the status quo - I am sure that if I had been able to take part in day to day chatting with the others and maintain low contact with the narcissist the whole things would be a distant memory now - but that is not the case... no contact is manifested by this exclusion and now I judge that flying hang gliders - beautiful and freeing that it is - something I love deeply - is simply not so much fun - it causes me pain and anxiety and so I come to think it is best that I stop...so in this "no contact" has worked against me"

      Thanks for writing about your experience with No Contact. When people take this approach too quickly, without considering the implications of such extreme action, they won't know how to protect themselves from consequences they didn't foresee. This is why I opened the conversation about No Contact, to encourage people to think very carefully about a tactic that might "backfire" or Limit their lives (such as you kindly explained). The retaliation can be (WILL BE) extreme as the narcissist scrambles to protect his/her reputation. Being vocal about No Contact will most assuredly result in a smear campaign and even IF we are "in the right" and merely trying to protect ourselves from harm, we are NOT as good at manipulation as the narcissist. We are far less likely to manipulate other people's opinions and we have a threshold below which we will NOT go no matter what. When the smear campaign is lobbied against someone who is already reeling from the craziness of ALL narcissistic relationships, it's even more devastating, even more debilitating.

      There isn't a right answer and I am not proposing one. I simply want people to think very carefully about their motivations and the potential consequences of No Contact.

      I am very sorry you have not been able to enjoy a beloved sport and I hope that at some point, you'll be able to resume an activity that brought you such joy.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  36. Hi CZ. Thank you for writing this blog post. I've done a lot of research over the last twenty years about narcissists and growing up with toxic parents, and you've really nailed their behaviour here. I'm 55, and have been on low contact with my narcissistic father for some years now. My mother died in 1997, and Dad quickly started dating a neighbour (his age). They're now married, and she is as toxically narcissistic as he is, so I just had to break away. It took a lot of courage even for low contact, but I'm still constantly fearful that when the phone rings, he will be on the other end... In fact, I feel so anxious about it, I have turned off the phone ringer!

    A few years ago (2010) my only sister (who I thought was Dad's princess, while I was the one he hated and picked on) died. I went to the hospital while she was in a coma, and stayed in the room with her, and her ex-husband (still a friend) for three days. I kept saying to myself, "It's about her, don't let anyone distract you." The three of them were making it about them, but I stuck it out, being with my sister until she passed over. I felt she was the lucky one...

    I'm sick too, with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I feel it's closely tied to my non-relationship with dear old Dad... I realised the other day (I work on myself daily, trying to heal and be free of this toxic legacy) that Dad didn't actually love my sister either. That was profound for me! All these years I'd believed he loved her, but not me, and that there must be something wrong with me - something completely unlovable... But no... He used her to make himself feel big, because she pandered to him, and she became the one most like him, unable to see herself, or her beloved Daddy.

    Well, getting back to your post... He has turned my request for low contact back on me, and now (with your help) I see what has happened. And I'd fallen right into the trap - chasing him!!! Even though he's still violating my boundaries, I'm wanting his love, and trying to prove that I'm not the terrible person he's been making me out to be (to his new wife and her family, and their friends). But I can't go on like this - he just isn't capable of giving, because he doesn't love himself. Being in any type of contact with him is a bit like drinking poison and hoping you won't die.

    And here's the catch... He keeps putting money in my savings account. I don't want to close my account because, well, I don't. I've told him I don't want the money (when he asked) so he put it in anyway. And that's my payment for staying away and not spilling the beans about him with his 'new' family... I'm going to try even further reducing contact by not chasing, or even answering emails (if he sends them) - maybe just a Christmas card, and birthday card each year, and that's it. I feel like I won't be totally free of his toxicity until he's passed on, but I'm trying to heal myself, and that's all I can do...

    I wish you, and anyone reading this who may also be affected by destructively narcissistic parents, the very best - self-love means treating ourselves with kindness and respect, and we really need that nurturing, because most of us never even learned how to take care of ourselves...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have done your research! That's such a joy to my heart because it says so much about your intentions. You are trying (just like myself) to "understand", not condemn.

      Now that narcissism is being discussed everywhere we look, I hear a lot of hate from people who've never cracked a book, never searched for answers, never examined themselves or hoped for a way to stay connected to someone who "hurt" them. I think people like ourselves hope for an answer somewhere, that will allow "us" to modify our behavior in such a way as to impact the narcissist. We are willing to do the work, we are willing to try and that is very different from someone seeking a diagnosis to justify rejection, resentment (or even abuse). First, seek to understand.

      You wrote: "ll these years I'd believed he loved her, but not me, and that there must be something wrong with me - something completely unlovable"

      And THAT is the illusion: when siblings become competitive for something that parent can't even give. I wrote about this if you are interested in reading another essay: It's titled "Daughters of Disconnections and Misbegotten Rivalry"

      http://n-continuum.blogspot.com/2012/08/daughters-of-disconnections-and.html

      I wish you well ---treating yourself with kindness and respect. Seeking a way to protect yourself from further abuse. It probably feels awful to even admit a parent's death will be freeing. But you are not alone in this thought or this experience. A narcissistic parent's death impacts their children in different ways. If you have done preparatory work that in a way, begins the grieving process long before they pass, you will feel liberated. You will be liberated. When ACoNs ignore or deny the work that must be done, they might be overcome with unresolved grief---trying even harder to keep the "good parent image" alive.

      Blogging is a mutually collaborative work. Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm so grateful people find Help and Support in my writings.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  37. CZ, Thank you for writing about the N's use of the "No Contact Rule." My N sister (younger) has been using this against me for decades for various perceived "major infractions" such as my not reading her mind, not allowing myself to be manipulated at her whim, etc. It is a long sickening list.
    Her 'No Contact' punishment for me would range from several weeks, or years (we only lived two miles apart). Each time she would 'stage' an accidental 'bumping into me' i.e. at the grocery store (where she apparently saw my car), beauticians, etc. (our parents lived in another state and there were no family events to speak of). Anyway, this was always the main way she punished me, oh, excluding me from her wedding back in '98 was also a good one, particularly since she had been my maid of honor the year before in '97.
    This last 'punishment' round has been since 2010 when her alcohol problem became so obvious that it was frightening to my husband and myself. She and her husband had bought a second home about a mile from us. (they now pass our home several times a month and do not stop or acknowledge that we even live here) I decided to tell her that her drinking was giving me great cause for concern. I offered her anything she needed and told her I'd be there for her.
    Of course she retaliated by calling me a wicked liar etc. And, I braced myself for another round of "you don't exist." So for the last four years she's been playing another Narc's round of the Silent Treatment/No Contact because you're evil and wicked.
    It would be so bad (I do not strive to make up with her, at 60 years old, it's finally obvious to me that her character flaws preclude a sincere supportive relationship).. However, our Mother has now moved close to my husband and I and she pretends that little sister is an angel of sorts.
    She and her husband will be having Mother at their home for Thanksgiving. (my husband and I are, of course, not invited and we are supposed to disappear and 'play dead' since my N sister has declared us both unofficially nonexistent. My brother may also be there, drive in from another state, and he has allowed himself to be dragged into her RA games for years (they are only 13 months apart and he has never married).
    Rather than feel so badly about it all, as I usually do and my sister obviously wants me to... I calmly explained to my Mother that she and my Brother are being used as patsies in little sisters Relational Aggression Game. "wall off the offending family member and use the other members as participants in this awful game." Mom said she didn't see it... I told her calmly I saw it quite clearly and have for years. This is how life is with my family and it isn't something I'd wish on anyone.
    Thanks for your worthwhile blogging,
    I hope more people become aware of RA, and N tactics,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anonymous! You could have written my post! Your experiences exemplify what I was trying to say about "appropriated No Contact".

      I've experienced this same crazy-making behavior and the cruelest thing was NOT informing me as to WHY our family had been cut off, cut out of communications, removed from affiliation. It's like one day we are best friends and the next day I have cooties. Then suddenly, everything is "cool" again and I let go of the past without forcing the issue. This is an abusive cycle for us to be caught up in and it's easy to get there with a sibling who is not held accountable for his/her behavior.

      Of course we let them get away with it because there is no "accounting". All confrontation does is reignite the fires and who knows where it will end? When someone leaves a burning cross in your yard? When the neighborhood votes you out? When the police show up or child services tries to take your children away? A narcissist's retaliation can exceed our wildest imaginations so it makes a lot of sense why people like yourself don't make waves. We hope for the best but the best never happens and then one day we've had enough and we realize their appropriated No Contact is a blessing. We stop taking it personally.

      I especially appreciate your comment now that the holidays are approaching. People "let go" of their resentments in the hopes of having a pleasant holiday. But the narcissist's character deficits run deep. Their ingrained behavior is as petrified as last years gum drops stuck to the bottom of a Christmas sock.

      Now that you've stated your stance to your mother, you may want to back off from the triangulation. I only say this in hindsight 'cuz I have tried to change the way my family relates to one another and it's only ended up hurting ME. You can't win with a narcissistic person because they are willing to do things you won't do, things your conscience won't allow you to do. We will pay a price and it might be total exclusion. That's not to say telling your mother what you think is wrong because it sounds like you were calm and non-blaming. I think we have to stand up for ourselves or lose our self-respect. Once we've said our peace though, that's when we might want to back off from the subject. I have not been very good about that and regret trying "too hard" to get people to understand my point of view.

      Let me know (if you are reading this) what the fall-out might be. I appreciate any and all tips readers share with me about their narcissistic families!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  38. Confession - As a survivor of N abuse by my ex-husband, I have tried for 2 solid years to go NC. My inability to do so has felt incredibly weak. The texting contact I have initiated, however, has served the purposes of both giving myself an opportunity to express my anger, distain and disgust to my ex AND simultaneously inflicted constant reminders of the guilt and shame that a part of him feels. Knowing my ex reads my texts and rarely responds (other than an occasion F U), has given me a sort of twisted comfort. Not so coincidentally, once I finally seemed to get control of myself and stopped texting, my ex NH blocked my texts. Ain't that about a bitch? Just as I implemented complete self-protection, he decided to implement Control, Punishment and Shame Management. What amazing pre-emptive perception he has. After one month of NC on my side and being blocked on his side, I texted him asking for his help on a neutral topic from a different number and voila, he responded immediately. This told me all I needed to know. He still has no self-control, is unpredictable & ever-changing, cannot resist requests for advice (ego strokes), cannot commit to his own self-implemented rules, is still utterly cold-hearted, and is still susceptible to guilt and shame. As if anyone could get revenge on a N...I take pleasure in the small stuff...LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment jars my memory---how hard it was "NOT" to say anything or defend myself. For a certain period of time, we might need to speak our minds. After all, most people have been rudely criticized and even lied about. You have to say something to restore your dignity, right? Believe me, I could not have gone "No Contact" without telling that rat bazturd what a selfish man he was. Did he care? No. I kinda think he relished being the source of my anger and misery.

      I don't think narcissists ever tire of "narcissistic supply." Also, if your relationship lasted a long time (more than a couple of years), you are the "keeper" of their history. You can make their history real by renaming the significant events in his life, the successes, the accomplishments, all the people who adored him. ha! You probably understand what I'm saying because we do this while married to narcissists. We pick up on their need to have us recount their successes. It sounds worse than it is...everyone does this to some degree so it's not a pathological behavior.

      Go ahead. Take pleasure in the small stuff because you are right, you cannot get revenge. It's a dangerous game AND you'll feel bad about yourself if you 'betray' your core values.

      Thanks for commenting!
      CZ

      Delete
    2. Thanks CZ. I AM the one and only "keeper" of his history of 16 years. However, I will never remind him of any successes or accomplishments because he had very few. Instead I remind him of his failures and F -ups. No one ever adored him, except me. He left once my adoration ended. And any significant events in his life were just his own self-created dramas. It gives me joy, though, reminding him of what he lost...and will never get back...ME.

      Delete
  39. CZ,
    This is Nancy, thanks for your advice. (Nov. 20, anonymous)
    I don't know how it will all turn out but I'm presently stuck between self-preservation, taking care of my emotional and physical health, self-esteem versus continuing to be the 'villain' of the family that the Narc sister is using for target practice. I used to be able to handle her abuse but now that they have all moved from another state and are now within several miles of my husband and I.. well, she has a brave new Narc frontier to enjoy -- rallying the nearby relatives around her for the Holidays and leaving us out of any family gathering. It's nauseating and I'm able to admit that I'm not holding up well.
    I will take your advice and not state my position again to my Mother. What I hadn't written is that she 'scoffed' (yes, that's the word) and sounded incredulous and then sarcastic in response. I calmly explained it all again and then my veins felt like they were on fire. The phone became so heavy in my hand and words no longer came... I slammed the phone down and walked away and had a good cry. That's where it is and I'll make no move to contact her.
    This is not her choice, this is my choice now and I'll take my time to decide what, if anything, is my next step.
    I do want to mention that since 2008 when my Father died the dynamics have become much crazier and fully tilted towards my Narc sister's favor. He kept things more in balance and even asked me point blank if I thought she was a sociopath... I agreed that she could be quite uncaring and mean. Before he got real sick, he told me the story of the Scorpion and the Beaver. I couldn't believe my own father telling me that my sister was so mean but he saw things as they were.
    (if you recall, the Scorpion asks the Beaver for a ride across the river; the Beaver says "No" you're a Scorpion, you'll sting me and I'll die; the Scorpion says, "No" I won't I promise; they reach the other side and the Scorpion stings him and he's dying; the Beaver cries, why did you do this? The Scorpion says, "you know what I am, I'm a Scorpion and that's what we do."
    all is as it should be,
    Nancy
    //

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nancy! That's amazing that your father could see through your sister. And it's even more amazing that he was willing to risk telling you. That must have felt validating after years of being targeted and mistreated by your sister! It's so comforting and 'sanity-restoring' when someone we care about sees our heart and knows who we are. Hold on to that memory---it will ground you through this ugly experience.

      That your mother scoffed at you is a warning sign. You are not going to get through to her by appealing to her empathy. If you express your feelings and explain how you've been hurt, her heart will not soften. When someone invalidates us the way your mother did, it's time to put strong boundaries in place. Most of us try to appeal to that person's nature, sometimes even sharing more than we intended because this is how normal relationships functions. It's really important to stop sharing, to stop trying to educate or convince someone who isn't willing to listen to our point of view and offer compassion (even if they disagree!). We can disagree with someone's perceptions AND still have compassion and concern for them, trying to hear what they are saying. You are wise to back off, at least for awhile...at least until you can recover your sense of self-worth and confidence after your mother's sarcastic and rude response.

      I know how hard it is being surrounded by family yet feeling isolated and excluded. I'm sorry you're in such a stressful situation so please take care of yourself. Please take some time to remind yourself that you are "A WoNderful woman of worth." You can't imagine the number of times I told myself that when my self-esteem was on the ground. Being rejected by family, mistreated and lied about is psychologically devastating. Feel free to write me anytime...

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  40. My former boyfriend inflicted no contact on me four days after being intimate with me by blocking me from phone, texting, email, and even having the gall to hint at getting a restraining order against me! The thing is, this person pursued me with all his charms in the beginning, and so many times could be sweet and tell me he loved me, followed by sudden cruel reversals, that he had me totally confused. Now I am struggling with, and have been for some time, with whether or not I should seek some form of retribution. What I know about him I could tell to his soon-to-be ex-wife, and it could affect the outcome of his divorce. I now know that he emotionally abused his wife, just like me, and I think if people like us don't do anything to stop people like them, then narcissists will continue hurting people. Why should they get away with emotional rape, anymore than a rapist should get away with physical rape?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pardon me but how can the N be your former bf and also have a soon-to-be ex-wife? I doubt anything you could tell her would help her in her divorce. Any additional info could further traumatize her. It would depend on the state, I guess, and what you know and what she doesn't know. In my state, we have no-fault divorce so my husband's affairs with prostitutes had no bearing on any of it. There are thousands of books and blogs and youtube videos about N's. In my opinion, the only way to "stop them" is to isolate them from all human contact - sorta like Guantonimo Bay. All malignant narcs need to go live on an island together away from the rest of us. I would love to make them suffer by feeding them only nasty foods, starving them of all entertainment and removing all pleasure from their lives.

      BTW - I attempted to warn my ex's new gf, but she refused to listen...Thought I was crazy...I wonder who told her that? Anyway, eventually, when she is completely spent, she can seek me out. I'll decide at that time whether or not Im feeling generous.

      Delete
    2. "I now know that he emotionally abused his wife, just like me, and I think if people like us don't do anything to stop people like them, then narcissists will continue hurting people. Why should they get away with emotional rape, anymore than a rapist should get away with physical rape?"

      That's a tough one. Emotional rape would be a hard thing to prove in court.

      I'm not clear but assume you were "the other woman" while he was married to his wife? And you are considering telling his wife to punish him in court? That might not be the case but many "OWs" who've conversed with me (and they usually don't because I was "the wife"), feel emotionally raped. They were led on by a married man and expected him to mean whatever he said to get her in bed. Then when he didn't "pick" her as his partner, she felt emotionally raped. I have a hard time with seeing OWs as victims although I fully understand how convincing and callous narcissists can be.

      Since his wife is already divorcing him, your revelations might not be necessary. I'm all for people telling the wife/husband that their spouse is having sex with other people in order to protect that person. I'm not so keen on retribution on the part of the affair partner. Sometimes people have to carry the burden of their choices all by themselves. Besides, he threatened to get a restraining order against you so I think your best course of action is No Contact (and that includes No Contact with his soon-to-be-ex).

      I am not a relationship expert, though. Whatever you decide, I'd be interested in hearing about the results.

      Hugs
      CZ

      Delete
    3. Hi Anonymous! You wrote: "I attempted to warn my ex's new gf, but she refused to listen...Thought I was crazy...I wonder who told her that?"

      Raising my "crazy" hand here! It's amazing how many crazy wives there are on this planet, isn't it? You know...I don't think narcissists necessarily believe their wife is crazy. It's just an EXCUSE that flies with the general population. If telling "the other woman" that his wife was crazy didn't get the OW to drop her panties, he wouldn't do it. He uses whatever works 'cuz narcissists are lazy like that. When I heard numerous ex-wives say the same thing you did, I was able to let go of the "crazy CZ" accusation.

      I may be in a foul mood today but may I just say how sick-and-tired I am of the Crazy-Wife-Trope? As if that's an excuse to drop his britches, right?

      "Yea, my wife is so crazy I had to seek sexual fulfillment from any woman who believed she was SANE by comparison."

      I may never live to see the day when a man can't get away with this sorry excuse. Oh how happy I'll be when a "potential" sex-mate says to him, "If your wife is crazy, you need to support her, nurture her, help her. Your responsibility to her increases because of her mental illness so use your hand, don't even think about using me."

      Warning: I get a little pissy during the holidays since my ex left his family Christmas morning. The poor widdle OW was so sad about spending Christmas alone cuz hey, CZ had her kids to keep her company. Holy moley the lies people tell themselves, eh?

      Hugs
      CZ

      Delete
    4. CZ,
      This is Nancy... I made through Thanksgiving and I'm keeping them all away from me (including Dear Mom). Thank you for your support and understanding.

      I'm sorry that Christmas was that awful for you and your children. It's obviously not something you want to be reminded of... I'm hoping you have a very nice Christmas and please try not to think about him and his character flaws -- they do not reflect on you.

      You are obviously wonderful too in sharing your experiences and helping others heal from the Narc trash we have been exposed to. They do not define us.
      best, Nancy
      //

      Delete
    5. Hi Nancy,

      We've made a concerted effort to enjoy the holidays each year and it gets better and better as time goes on. But now and then, I lapse into sadness and the occasional snark-mood which takes me by surprise! I felt an obligation to explain why I was a bit pissy the other day since many of the people who started blogging with me are no longer actively reading. How cruel can a person be? Leaving on Christmas morning???!!!! We could forget if he'd left June 10th, or February 8th or any other random day, but Christmas morning? If anything qualified the man for a NPD, that alone would do it.

      I'm glad you made it through Thanksgiving without some kind of crazy-arsed-crisis. Nobody does drama better than narcissists!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    6. CZ,
      I have the same reaction to OW stuff... what is their sense of entitlement about? When a person is 'free' they can do what they want. But why would an OW or OM depend on a still-married person to fulfill their expectations and needs? Call me old-fashioned but a relationship that starts with an OW/OM disrespecting a would-be partner's marriage (or union) is likely to end up a mess. What do they say? oh yea, Do unto others.....as you would have them do unto you. I don't consider that snarky and I understand your response, Nancy

      Delete
    7. As another 'OW' or 'soul wife' as he used to call me (because our love was above human capabilities - yeah, laugh at that one), I can say that our relationship,was NOT about sex. Not to him, anyway. It was about power, control, intermittent reinforcement, deceit, manipulation and getting high.

      Cz I see you mention sex a bit, but I believe it has nothing to do with it. The narc I knew just used sex as power over me and as a source of supply, something he had to do to get that supply and attention. I mistook it for bonding, and it felt very real at the time. But in hindsight it didn't mean anything to him, and he didn't use it to satisfy himself. He was getting high on all the other games he had going.

      The 'OW' has been profiled and almost does not have a choice. I mean, I look back to a normal, truthful person but I came to lie to myself. I had deep cognitive dissonance - marriage does not protect people from becoming the victim of a narcissist.

      When he cold called me out of the white pages after meeting me in a pub where I played music, I said straight up to him three times - mate, you're married, this is inappropriate'. His response? 'I know, but I thought we got along so well.'

      And the seed was sewn - and that's what they do best. Did I have a choice? I knew right from wrong, black from white. But he read my susceptibility to low standards for myself or outward confidence but inward insecurity - or something. He knew the key - and that's why I ask - did the victim, whoever they are, have a real choice? You? Me? He treated me better than anyone ever has in my life - how could I turn away? How could I let this 'Prince Charming' go? Does marriage protect outsiders from becoming victims, just like you? Not at all. We've been marketed to, as well. We have the same traits as you and fall for the same games. We're interchangeable. Neither one of us holds more value than the other as a human being (and that's a great healing for the ego) - only our supply and how much we are prepared to give of ourselves.

      There will never be a married guy again. I don't give a shit if she's Godzilla and she beats him five times a day and feeds him nothing but cat biscuits, I'll never take on anyone's married baggage again, allow someone to play the victim again, be a part in hurting another woman again - and keep a beautifully simple and easy life. 🙏

      Delete
  41. Thank you SO much for posting this. This is exactly what happened to me. It's the first time anything like this ever happened to me and will hopefully be the last. It was part of a preemptive strike or smear campaign. I ended up losing friends, and he was the one who appeared to be the "good guy." It was quite public. It would have taken too much effort to go around convincing people of what a jerk he was, so I just accepted it and did my best to maintain composure in the face of it all. All I had wanted was to just sit down together and talk about things, but he just couldn't be bothered. Now I understand that the hot and cold, Jekyll & Hyde behavior, silent treatment, and finally No Contact decision were all ways for him to stay in control and devalue me. Funny how after he demanded we have No Contact he ended up calling me two days later. A sick puppy, that one. He did me a favor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are SO welcome, anonymous! I try to write the things "I" needed to hear back when people were telling me to "wait it out." That my husband would return a sorry man for having done something so cruel to his family. Well, that kind of thinking undermines our ability to think rationally, doesn't it? Learning about personality disorders that went FAR beyond a dysfunctional relationship was invaluable to me. I can accommodate crazy if sanity is achievable, ha! The narcissistic relationship though---that's a whole nother thing and there isn't anything a kind/accomodating partner can do if the narcissist won't allow him/her to affect them. Once you've been devalued-and-discarded, it's over. There's nothing left but abuse when we try too hard to 'reach them.'

      A wounded narcissist is like a wounded rottweiler. Your heart might go out to him or her but you'd best keep your hands and sympathy to yourself.

      Yes...he did you a great favor by "outing" himself and his malicious character. It's hocking to discover someone has been setting us up for a 'fall' (smear campaign) but we only make things worse when we defend ourselves. I think most people would agree that trying to prove what a jerk they were only makes us look bad. IT's best to hold up our heads and play the waiting game 'cuz one thing is sure: pathological narcissists don't change.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    2. Thank you for sharing! I just got threatened on several text messages by my ex to get "both fucking barrells" and "I'll make sure to let everyone know what you did" This along with a long list of accussations on what he thinks I have done (that simply is not true). He also, yet again, tries to tell me how I need to stop projecting and start taking responsibility for my feelings and stop blaming him for a number of things.

      To be honest, I no longer think that this is my drama and I do take responsibility for myself and my actions. Unfortunately I am a very sensitive person and I am struggeling so hard at the moment dealing with all this, not being able to defend myself. How did you do it? How did you get past all the feelings, the smearing campain and your ex?

      Delete
  42. I want to wish everyone a Wonderful Holiday and loving, happy, and healthy New Year.
    Try and imagine how free you would be if you were to live your life without narcissists -- then try and make it a reality in the New Year. These people aren't worth the erosion of our soul that we've spent in 'trying to understand them' and get along. They are an empty shell, nothing more.
    CZ, I will send you good wishes that you and your family have a beautiful Christmas morning..
    my turn for hugs to you, Nancy
    //

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A beautiful Christmas morning to you, too, Nancy! Thank you so much for stopping by and wishing our family well! <3 <3 <3

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  43. Dear CZ, oh narc evil knows no bounds! i bookmarked your blog, and pray that more people, who've been done dirty, will find healing on their way upward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I pray for the same thing, Sue. We've been long in need of information about pathology. Relying on the advice offered by our religious leaders has led to some tragic circumstances when people didn't know personality disorders existed. Many of us (myself included) were loath to say someone had a poor character even, because we believed love could turn people around...that love would open their hearts and the family would be well and happy and joyful. We needed to know some people were pathologically oriented towards themselves, dutifully invested in serving themselves.

      Well, you can't know something you didn't know--so now the healing begins! Onwards and Upwards, yes!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  44. CZ,
    What a wonderful post you've written...as usual. It's been quite awhile since I've commented here, but it's not because of NC. LOL I'm making this my final year of teaching, so I can move on to do more writing and help manage our Airbnb listing. (Oh, the people we've met!) I find your writing is always well thought out and you always give me something to think about. I thank you for that, and the link to my blog. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to know you haven't gone "No Contact" with me. ha! It's kinda hard blogging for as long as I have---my friends move on with their lives and I miss them. If my life situation were different, I may have moved on, too. The impetus to write dissipates over time cuz who can stay pizzed off forever? ha!

      I had to google Airbnb and it sounds to me like you could create a new and very popular blog, just writing about the people you've met! How interesting that would be, especially with your sense of humor! I will never forget your post about the airline security check! (oh, and the one I read to my entire family at the dinner table---about moving to Mexico). hahaha!! You are hilarious and wonderful.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  45. Your insight has been an answer to a prayer and light in the midst of darkness. I have had this tactic used on me in so many ways to control me and coerce me. In fact the latest efforts at this just began again tonight. I have been separated for five years because of an explosion in my narcissistic soon to be ex husband that resulted in him implementing a stay away order in 2010 while I was at work after we had an argument about him and confronting him on exploitive behaviors towards me and neglectful towards children and parenting. He filed court documents and accused me of being abusive towards him a term he still uses to gaslight me and make me cower. My family and friends quickly learned of his antics and advised me to leave. I did and was stuck in limbo five years trying to understand what had happened. Mind you we had been married fifteen years before it exploded like that. It was deteriorating over the years but I was silently tortured. The stay away was a major public blow that many never recovered and exposed how insane my marriage and the dynamic was and is. It has worsened over time because he is now moved to punish me as control tactics. He has done everything without putting hands on me including changing locks on our home twice, barricading himself in basement and bedroom, video taping me when I get upset, hacking facebook account and email accounts, gas lighting, smearing, cheating, you name it. I'm filing for divorce and just pray to God for healing for me and my children. I have felt like a victim but realize I have been playing a role in imprisonibg myself by not going no contact to the extent possible in the current circumstance. I have tried to keep contact because of my children going to spend time and he will use them as pawns as well. Pray for me as I go forward with divorce and getting out as it will up the ante this my fear. This is my second attempt at divorcing him. Last time I backed down thinking it would change. Learning curve was flat and once in the parking lot I was put right back into the hole of silent treatment. I feel really incomfortable talking to persons outside of communities with experience with this as the behavior is so embarrassing and crazy I feel it has made people give me the side eye on what are you doing or blaming me for attracting a crazy maker in the first place. I needed you blog and God made this connection possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello dear anonymous,

      You were making decisions about your relationship based on what you know is likely with "normal" people. We all do this. When we grow up, we learn how to negotiate peace, how to reconcile, how to play nice with a friend after a bad argument. We reciprocate "good will" because we are as invested in the relationship as the other person adn that is how "normal" kids learn to get along in this world. And then we meet someone who is not of "good will", who manipulates and strategizes methods for "getting even." The good will we extended to them is not returned and in fact, they are so "un-invested" in the relationship that they treat us like replaceable/disposable objects. This is shocking to us when it happens because if you are like me, you'd never witnessed such callous and ruthless behavior before. Especially with intimate relationships which should have, even during divorce challenges, a basic modicum of fairness.

      We can't know what we didn't know and our naivete about personality disorders creates a great deal of pain in our lives until we finally MUST let go or continue suffering. The information about NPD that is currently available, can shortcut the "letting go" process if we have been mistreated to the point of No Return. It's over. It's done. We are able to make rational decisions because NOW we know why our many many and oftentimes tireless efforts to affect the narcissist, were doomed to fail.

      I will most surely pray for you as you make a second attempt to divorce him. You may need additional support from experienced people who also loved "their" narcissist with all their heart and soul. Cutting off such an important relationship is never easy and we might be manipulated by the N because it's so hard to do. Find yourself an online group and post messages while you go through this process. I can't emphasize enough, how valuable that can be to someone who knows how to love, how to attach. This is the time to "let go" and it's not easy.

      I am so glad this article has helped you see through the narcissist's "appropriation" of No Contact. The more you learn, the stronger you will be when the "head spinning" begins (which is usually does. Narcissists know our weak spots and they won't hesitate manipulating us to get whatever it is they want.

      NO Contact will help but as you say, you have children with him so it's never simple. He sounds like a smart manipulator who might also be Machivellian (his reverse tactic to make you look bad). I am so sorry when someone writes a story like yours---because like you, I didn't understand NPD and made many mistakes before stumbling on this important information. Then I could figure out ways to de-escalate the arguments and negotiate a fairer settlement for myself.

      Good Luck! Don't hesitate commenting while you go through this!

      CZ

      Delete
  46. Thank you for this superbly written piece, and to all the commenters who have shared their stories. It has been one year since my N Brother and I broke contact. All my life my brother alternated bullying, manipulative behaviour with caring, loving behaviour. He was my closest friend, and my worst enemy. I spent my entire life moderating his relationship with our parents, friends and his girlfriends. I always explained away his behaviour, and agonized over WHY he behaves this way. His recollection of our childhood is mostly fabricated, he blames everyone around him and exhibits all the signs of a textbook narcissist. I only recently began reading about this disorder, and because he tried so hard to control me, reject me and then blame me, for so many years, it was hard at first to accept that my smart, loving, crazy, arrogant, self-centered, charming brother was this kind of person. He told me (via text message) that he did not want a relationship with me after some perceived slight (I missed a dinner with him because I was kept long at a job interview). He accused me of being drunk, which I was not, and then proceeded to publicly shame me via social media. We have many common friends and overseas relatives who read his bizarre account of what happened. He then cut our mother off as well, with no explanation to her about why, but another public rant about how emotionally abusive she was to him as a child. His posts elicited attention and sympathy from his ¨followers¨, feeding his inflated sense of self.
    I have turned his controlling, punishing No Contact into a positive scenario for my own mental health. While I occasionally struggle with missing his kinder side and our closeness, mostly I just live my life and accept myself as no longer a victim. I don't disparage him - I have sympathy for him and those he has in his life. I miss him terribly sometimes. BUT. I don't miss wondering what will trigger an outburst, or angry rant from him. I don't miss him trying to control my relationships, my life choices and behaviours. I have taken the punishment out of the scenario by realizing it was the absolute best thing for me in the end. I, in effect, reversed his No Contact and made it my own, and I believe my mother has tried to do the same.
    Your post made me cry. It was validation during a moment of nostalgia for me. I occasionally consider reaching out to him, and was thinking about doing that today. I cannot. He will only hurt me. I am by nature a giving person, and I think probably a pretty good person, and he has the ability to disassemble my entire psyche in one crazy conversation. I do not hate him but cannot help him. This is the only way I can remain true to my agreement with myself not to keep in touch.
    I never responded to his online criticism by defending myself. I did nothing. And nothing happened. My friends are still my friends, my husband still loves me for who I am and my brother is still my brother. To have responded would have only fueled his victim persona, and ultimately continued a terrible and irrational conversation in a public forum.
    The line from your post that will carry my through the rest of my day is this: "what narcissists see is not what is".
    Thank you for validating my heartfelt attempt to take care of myself and those that love me well. I hope my brother gets help one day. Until then, he remains my brother, just not my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anonymous,

      If my article was able to say what you needed to hear, that makes me cry and now we are both sobbing messes! Isn't it the most beautiful feeling in the world when obsession and guilt are released; and we no longer wonder what "we" did wrong to cause someone to end the relationship. I had to go through this experience to feel it so deeply in my bones that the words put themselves together. I had to go through this experience with enough "healing work" under my belt to recognize the unfairness, the upside-down insanity of it all. I had to go through this experience to push me into research about the debilitating effects of ostracism. It is a powerful weapon to use against people who are relationship oriented.

      Excerpted from your post:

      "We have many common friends and overseas relatives who read his bizarre account of what happened. He then cut our mother off as well, with no explanation to her about why, but another public rant about how emotionally abusive she was to him as a child. His posts elicited attention and sympathy from his ¨followers¨, feeding his inflated sense of self. "

      What narcissists "see" is not what "is". Yes, this might take awhile to grasp but not for those who've been maligned unfairly! It's as if everything good and caring about a lifelong relationship, has been exorcised from the narcissist's memory. We can go from friends to enemies overnight; pleading for an explanation only exposes us to further insult. It is crazy and it is soul crushing and I am very sorry this happened between you and your brother.

      I clipped that portion from your text because it's important to understand why someone posts their version of events online. Most people would be loath to say anything 'bad' about family members until they've tried and tried and tried to reconcile disputes. Cutting off contact means his story won't be contradicted. Social media can be a catalyst for healing; but it can also promote narcissism. If the people your brother is writing to validate his story without questioning him, he can create a fantasy about his childhood that will justify his anger, hatred, jealousy, etc.

      I fear that more people than we realize, are encouraged to be hostile by people who do NOT know them. It's important to choose our friends (social support) wisely and only pick people who encourage us to be the best person we can be---not the worst.

      I'm not suggesting social media creates narcissism but I do think it has the potential to enhance anti-social behaviors.

      Remember that narcissists view reality through a distorted lens---a narcissistic filter. Everyone has issues and problems and everyone makes mistakes. That your brother is not extending even an ounce of "good will" towards yourself and your mother, is not your fault. Remember that when you are grieving the loss of this significant relationship.

      You can always hope that he will eventually mature/grow beyond his behavior today but you must not forget what he is capable of doing. I'm all for forgiveness and reconciliation even, if both people are willing. But never forget the terrible moment when you realized you had no power to impact someone you loved. There's really nothing quite like it and people who have not experienced such a callous lack of empathy, can't understand our emotional trauma.

      My best to you and your mother.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  47. Many years ago as I sat in yet another therapists office crying trying to figure out why, I could not get my life together why I was unable to trust people and make those connections that I so desperately wanted, why I was so awkward and incapable in my life; and the therapist told me that I needed to cut all contact with my father. I was shocked how could I do that and why would a therapist want me to cut ties with the one person who I had tried my entire life to get to love me. But I did what she said and I was able to stop taking my antidepressants in about 3 months and I started realizing that what I thought of my self was directly influenced by my father . I do see my father now but only on my terms on Birthdays and Holidays only and my husband totally has my back when I say it is time to go we go.
    Now my little sister is going through the same thing with my older sister, and I feel so bad for her but Is it my place to tell her what worked for me? In their case my older sister has decided that my little sister's at the time fiance' had disrespected her by saying that 11 pm was a outrageous hour to be calling their house, after that my older sister cut off most contact with my little sister because she still married her wife. That is so a daddy move punish you for not doing everything that i want you to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Unknown,

      Your story is so familiar. ACoNs have 'tried' to earn a parent's love and approval their entire lives and if they are lucky, eventually realize you can't "earn" love. People either give it to you and return it to you or they don't. Maybe (in the case of seriously narcissistic people), they don't have any love to give. That's a sad realization to accept after years of turning ourselves into pretzels, trying to get the love we're sure they have to give. But they don't. It isn't easy letting go of our attempts to be loved however. It's like walking away from a slot machine after dumping in our dollars for decades. We're just SURE the next person will come along and pull the lever and benefit from our investment.

      The detrimental effect your father had on your self-esteem was probably "invisible" to you because you grew up that way. You couldn't know anything different and so you plugged along your entire life, failing to earn his approval. Even if you didn't live with him anymore, he still lived inside your head and sometimes the ONLY way to detach is "no contact." Your therapist must have put two-and-two together and realized what was keeping you locked in place and hurting. But good for you---truly---for implementing a plan that puts YOU in the center of your life.

      You asked me if it was your place to tell your sister what worked for you and I can't possibly know what the right answer is for your situation. Overall however, most people regret talking to people about what they've learned about someone's narcissism. The best way to help is Being Yourself and taking care of yourself. Your behavior becomes a model-of-health for your siblings and that is far more convincing than "telling" anyone what to do.

      Your older sister to CUT OFF her little sister for as asinine an annoyance as "calling at 11 pm"? Sounds like older sister is following in Daddy's footsteps. That seems ridiculous but I know narcissistic people take offense and cut off contact over the most minor of insults---the kinds of insults most people would never be offended by. I might be forthright with my opinion that it's a dumb reason to avoid contacting a sister. You can talk with your younger sister and validate her feelings about the conflict. Just don't encourage her to "take the blame" because that is what ACoNs do, also. If a narcissistic person has limited contact or even declared a No Contact Zone, this time you should let them have what they want. Don't go begging for big sister's approval and don't apologize. Just get on with your life. When we "reward" narcissistic behavior, narcissism is reinforced.

      Good luck...sounds like you are making healthy progress working through the miseries of growing up in a narcissistic family!

      CZ

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your reply. I can not tell you how hurtful my father could be ( of course you most likely know) just for example though my daughter was born 4 months premature and was fighting for her life and having numerous surgeries at one point they told me that keeping her on the vent. would most likely cause her to be deaf or blind; my father came to me and my husband as we were trying to decide what we would do with this argument " You should just let her die; we do not want a person who is disabled in the family. It would be cruel of you to make us have to deal with that." never once did he ask how I was or how my husband and I were doing or even show any concern over his grandchild. We chose to keep her on the vent and she is deaf , but not long after she finally came home my father was upset with me and said " ... and I do not care if I ever see (my daughter's name) again I have lived this long with out her and I can live the rest of my life with out her." BROKE my heart; after all she had been through; for a grand parent to say such a thing.

      Delete
  48. Great article. I have been reading about this phenomenon recently on the net. Its apparently termed AVOIDANT ABUSE. Its something that covert narcs often engage in... lot of info coming out about this phenomenon which wasnt there a few years back. Personally I found in my case no contact did not work for me, and i actually needed to initiate contact from my side in order to take back my 'power' in a way - It definitely helped at the time. I experienced DARVO as you refer to - thanks for putting a name to the experience. wow. When I first understood that I had been subjected to avoidant abuse, a lot of things started making sense... the ostracism, the illogical, unjustified non contact, my self doubt thinking maybe i had done something to deserve it, and the narcs attempt to discredit me publicly by not speaking to me. Even though it was without provocation or justification, people thought I am to blame as why would he do this to me? They dont realise he doing this just so that they think that and doubt me!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip about Avoidant Abuse. I'll be googling that term tomorrow!

      It sounds like you've gone through the same ordeal many of us have...what a relief it is to understand what's happening since so few people do. WE can't get the support we need because as you wrote, people assume "we" must have done something to cause the problem in teh first place! How crazymaking that is!! The more we explain ourselves, the guiltier and crazier we look.

      DARVO explains a lot...so glad you're finding the same relief I have!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  49. I did block my ex from my Facebook page. This was after he chose to end the relationship via inbox message, despite living three miles from me. He had had me blocked on FB often - about 4 years total. He would lift the block when he wanted me to entertain him then slap it back again when he was finished. I reckon I blocked him about 30 seconds before he blocked me. Being blocked by him hurt me horribly, as he knew. So I saved myself that pain. It gives me a weird, unwanted feeling of power and control, which I suppose is what he's always after. I just don't like it. I do need control here, to stop the games. That block stays on as long as Facebook is online. No more on/off. OFF.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He ended the relationship with a "message"??!!*$&$&%# How chicken-shit is that?!! Well, it sounds like he was using Intermittent Reinforcement to keep you on the hook. Once you learn about Intermittent Reinforcement, you can catch yourself in the acts should you encounter a similar situation again. Here is a webpage I put together a few years ago:

      http://wonforum.blogspot.com/2011/02/intermittent-reinforcement.html

      I appreciated reading your comment about feeling "in control and powerful" after blocking him. The same thing happens when we LEARN to hang up the phone, too. Nice people are reluctant to do something like that because we were socialized to be polite. However, that always puts us in a subordinate position to "the narcissist". We cannot appeal to their sense of morality by being super-nice and super-polite. We only disempower ourselves. So one of the best things we can do to restore our sense of power-and-control is to determine when to hang up the phone or block them from Facebook.

      You sound like you're moving through a very rocky relationship with this man and I hope you'll stick to your resolve. It's painful at first but trust me---it's gets better. And better. And better.

      Big hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  50. Beautifully written..Thank you..The only thing..When a narcissist uses a child as the weapon of choice, one should not let go completely; as in Parental Alienation, which is used quite often by the narcissists.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Thank you, GFA. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    You bring up a very important point about Parental Alienation. We mustn't cut contact completely, even when the child rejects us as his/her parent. Even something as simple as a birthday card, keeps the lines of communication open. It doesn't sound like much for a grieving parent suffering the loss of his/her child; however, doing whatever we can within the limits of our constraint, allows a Pathway Back at a future time when the child becomes an adult.

    What would be valuable during this tragic period of separation, is learning about narcissism and how our child is being affected by a pathological parent. This allows us to "forgive" the child for being...well...for being a child.

    I am not well-versed in parental alienation although I have befriended both men and women who have experienced alienation because of a narcissistic ex. It's a terrible thing for both parent and child---only a "narcissistic ex" would find satisfaction in alienating his/her child.

    Even during the angriest of my days, I never wanted my children to "hate" their father.

    The inability to work through extreme emotions everyone experiences during divorce, sets the foundation for parental alienation: a means to "hurt" the ex and exact revenge without concern for the psychological damage to the child. Only someone with a pathological disorder would find satisfaction in such a result!

    Hugs,
    CZ

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thank you for writing this! I wish I would have seen it yesterday though. I suspect that my ex boyfriend has narcissistic traits (I do not have the competency to put a diagnosis on anyone so I am a bit careful here) which is exactly what he the past year has been accusing other people of, including his father and ex girlfriend. At least it was an emotionally abusive relationship and I feel so ashamed of having put myself through this knowing I am a strong person.

    To start with I bought into his stories on how horrible his ex had been treating him and how ungreatful she was when he only tried to do good. I wanted so to treat him better and ended up turning myself inside out to meet his needs, play on his rules, not to put too much expectations on him (which in his case was pretty much any sort of expectations not in line with his agenda). What I got out of it was glipses of paradise and what love and life could be when it was at it's best. And to be seen. I admit I do have those weeknesses and chose to ignore the warning signs along the way. Cause in those moments, it felt so good!

    When he wanted to, he was a true gentleman treating me like a prinsess and I loved the attention. I forgave him the moodswings, the outbursts, the endless conversations that always ended with me breaking down, giving up and apologizing for something I didn't do. He gave me lectures on how not to project my feeling onto him, on how I had to take reponsibility for my own feelings, how good he handled every difficult situation and what not. I started to seriously doubt myself and tried to change for him.

    6 months ago he broke up with me, but we have kept some kind of contact since we are in the same activity group and have mutual friends there. It was and still is inevitable to run into each other. So I tried to keep him in a good mood and on a distance. Not always successful, I did slip a few times and got too close to him again. Opened up and showed him vulnerability and shared my feelings with him.

    Two days ago I got all that thrown at me as false accusations, twisted what I had said, brought up old things and even accusing me of having cheated on him recently. Even if I had met someone new, which I have not, how can you cheat on someone you are not in a relationship with??. He also threatened to destroy me and tell everyone what I did and who I truly am. All this was triggered by me not responding to one of his "hey you, how are you?" messages on FB because I was focusing on my own life and did not have the energy to interact with him. By not replying it all got worse and it ended with me still not responding and removing him as a friend on FB. I did this after reading a lot online about how "no contact" is the only way to protect oneself and truly move on with ones life. When I removed him as a friend he responded with silence and blocked me on FB. So if he really has narcissistic tendensies, from what I understand this is him punishing me. And I do believe that he will spread mean rumours about me within the activity club and our mutual friends.

    When reading this article today I so regret not reponding to his messages. I know from experience that he cannot be reasoned with and that the content of the response would not have mattered. But maybe I should have responded at least to keep him from telling his "truth" about me and trying to destroy me. Maybe by not responding I was not protecting myself like I thought, but making things worse. I am so confused and scared. Is there anything I can do to fix this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to know which way we should respond when we want to end a relationship. Can be back away slowly? Bore them to pieces? Or must we use No Contact right away, like taking a band aid off an injury? Each person has to determine the appropriate action for themselves.

      Most people rush to "no contact" without thinking things through. That is understandable because sometimes we're being hurt each time we engage with the "n". Ending things quickly might be our best protection. Especially in cases of physical abuse---just Get Out while you are able to get out. But in my opinion, "No Contact" is being overused and that is why I made myself sit down and do some serious thinking about the topic.

      Narcissists, like the person you're referring too, REACT to rejection--even perceived rejection. They can be very intimidating and ruthless if they feel criticized or rejected. You may never have seen signs of this before ending the relationship but once you don't respond the way they expect you too, they react, sometimes seeking revenge; or ruining your reputation. I am sorry for anyone who's been through this because it's devastating and we aren't usually equipped with skills to deal with it. Oftentimes, we end up making things worse.

      If you're still around, would you mind telling me what's happening now? How are you handling this?

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  53. This was a brilliant read, thank you so much. I am so glad to hear that staying with his wife and having to be reminded of his infidelity in his own mind will make him feel out of control. When there is no closure, you take anything you can get.

    I outed his narcissism to her (even though she knew I was pregnant) and she didn't believe it. It was over for me because I'd caught him in a lie and the drama was taking a toll on my pregnancy at 6 months. I didn't want to be waiting around for a phone call and it was very apparent that I had been devalued and he just didn't care for me in my pregnant state. He was just in damage control.

    They had moved away (to isolate her in his home town with his immediate family, no doubt). He called me up after outing him for his lie and tried to manipulate me, tried pushing three different buttons - the victim, the threatener, the romantic love card - none worked. He hung up after 36 minutes and I've never spoken to him again. He couldn't find the key that would make me comply. I viewed it as 'punishment' as you said, for not 'complying' and not seeing him as he wanted to be seen. I figured him out. The mask still hadn't dropped, so I very much miss the man I thought was my soul mate - I still struggle with the loss of a father for my son, but I'm getting there.

    Can I ask you - how will my son's existence be affecting them? Can I put my trust in the universe to know that all misdeeds are paid for and that he cannot escape his wife's inevitable abandonment of him? By staying with him and enabling him, I feel invalidated, and my son's life invalidated.

    Sometimes I truly believe that he will be back (and I will shut him down and finally have my closure), and sometimes I feel so very sad because his son's life just doesn't matter to him. My son is a scapegoat. And that woman is helping him to scapegoat children. I hope you can see my grief about the situation. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi KG,

      I am a little confused. Are you saying that he stayed with his wife, rather than being with you even though you were pregnant?

      How will your son's existence affect this man and his wife? It's hard to say until you can clarify the situation a little. I am assuming (which may be wrong) that you were involved in an affair with him?

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    2. I figured him out and although he behaved like he was always grooming me and always acting like he was going to leave, even in my pregnancy. I wouldn't have him. In hindsight, I was only ever a back up plan and even then he would have had his doubts because I was always questioning him. I never would have trusted him - the mask would have fallen off in time. She is just better manipulated than me and I'm glad of that fact!

      So he stayed with his wife (18 years together now, 3 kids, 4 houses) and from the kinds of things she's texted me, she's very lied to and very brainwashed. She's said some very, very insane things that can be disproved easily, but she's not interested. He is gaining A grade supply as she passed the test of ultimate abuse by staying after he got someone else pregnant - until the next test, anyway. They'll all tests and tests we ultimately fail.

      Delete
    3. I am really so sorry for the pain you have suffered because of your relationship with a narcissistic man. I know how convincing they can be---their persuasive charm is renown and many a good woman has been trapped in his pseudo-love-web!

      Acting as though he is always going to leave is a manipulative way to keep you "trying to please him." I know it stinks to realize this in hind-sight but many of us (as the wife OR the girlfriend) have played this game without realizing it. Once we see the game for what it is, well---a scorned woman is a force to contend with!

      His wife, most likely, has a great deal to lose by facing the fact that her husband isn't trustworthy. He has likely "bad-mouthed" you to her---something she's programmed to believe because she has so much to lose. She has an 18-year investment in her marriage with joint assets and extended family relationships and yes, a part of her identity as his "wife."

      However, now she knows and what this will do to break his spell is yet to be seen. AT least you are free of a maN who would have hurt you AND your son! Trust me---women are better off staying single and raising their children without the interference of a critical and emotionally disconnected narcissistic father. Rather than think about his wife and his life and whether or not their marriage will last, COUNT yourself BLESSED and FREE. Far better to deal with your losses now than wait another 18 years and find out he's impregnated someone else.

      I am sorry that women fall for married men and it seems to be more common than ever. These guys are taking advantage of women, I think---our desire to own and enjoy our sexuality. I've talked with many women in your situation---all of them surprised that a married man would stay with a wife he disparaged. Well, he does that to all the women in his life. In fact, talking about his 'terrible/crazy/frigid' wife is part of his seduction ploy. He has very likely said similar things about you---I know this because of the destructive triangle in my own life.

      If women only knew how much these meN hated them.........I am sorry that you have been hurt but I am very very hopeful for your son! HE won't have to grow up with a dick for a Dad and that is, my dear kg, a very good thing.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    4. Thank you for your beautiful, non-judgemental and compassionate answer, cz. It's something I should frame and put on the wall, as it's such a reminder of the things I have already decided for myself but have such cognitive dissonance about.

      I don't have much support or validation for my experience, being a double deception and then being stonewalled once I exposed his narcissism to his wife,

      He told me I would 'never see another cent of his money' but I took him to court and won - and now he pays. In fact, now he pays around double he should after lowering his tax estimate to a ridiculous amount so either he's making a mistake with the double pay, or he's playing the victim (to his wife) and ripping her off and feeling Machiavellian about it, and the hero (to me) simultaneously because nothing ever comes for free and I will pay.

      I have not let him go, despite knowing everything, despite knowing he cannot love me. I just retracted 'does not love me", so I am still in some sort of non-acceptance of the past, and non-acceptance of my son never having a father. That's the most heartbreaking part. I want my son to have the man I loved as his father - but he doesn't exist. He's 18 months old and never met him. My heart breaks for this beautiful little boy. It's hard to disconnect. Any advice on how to accept and let go would be appreciated.

      I don't 'fall for married men'. I was profiled, stalked (I found out later but was flattered) and mirrored. I was held hostage by a soul rapist who I abandoned myself to be with because I was susceptible to people who identify me as intelligent, kind, compassionate and understanding. I was brought into his game of never ending and set up to fail tests.

      I believe narcissists are attracted to integrity so they can eat it all up, gouge on it - and when they turn around and tell you that you deserved it because you disrespected their family, you have further to fall while they laud above you draped in the integrity you gave away to heal them. Heal yourself first. Kg

      Delete
  54. Excellent article. No contact, or ghosting, was the outcome of my marriage.
    I married a man who I thought was wonderful. He claimed to be a Christian, and he seemed to want the same things I wanted out of life. We seemed like a great fit. When we got married, a flip switched and it was like I was married to an entirely different person. In reality, his mask just slipped. He was incredibly selfish, constantly talked about himself (and never wanted to listen), and halfway through the marriage, I found out he was a major alcoholic. Not only that, his mother was a nightmare and constantly meddled in our marriage. In the end, some of his family members became verbally abusive towards me. I went through pure hell. Throughout our marriage, I would bring these problems up to him many times, and each time, he would turn the tables on me, and I would be blamed. My mother looked through your purse? You're at fault. I'm falling around drunk and vomiting? You made me drink. Crazy, huh? I have never seen someone in so much denial. It was like he was in an alternate reality. He never did anything to take responsibility or own up to his problems. Where I should have been the one to receive an apology, I was actually blamed.
    I realize now, in his mind, he was thinking, "How dare she question me or tell me I am wrong? How dare she call into question me, my mother, or my family dynamics?" He admitted to me that since he was young, his mother spoiled him and this made him feel entitled. He was used to getting his way, to think the world revolved around him, and had the attitude of a prince. He wanted me to be silent, to comply with everything he did or said, and to enable him as he's always been enabled. When I didn't do that, I was shoved to the corner, or should I say dispensed into the trash. Totally banished. I was not worthy of his "presence" anymore. Lol.
    He thinks he's a victim. That's fine. He was also a victim when it came to his first girlfriend. She was a 'psycho', as he described.. It was also the way he described his first wife (a psycho, a lesbian, someone who wasn't wired properly). Hmm, I wonder what he's calling me now? Maybe psycho, maybe crazy, maybe difficult? Well, I'm sure it will be a continuation of his usual pattern. I told him he could run away from the marriage, but he will do the same exact thing to the next person and the next person and then the next person after that.
    At first I struggled with being "banished". When you're treated like you don't exist, it isn't easy. Now I see what a BLESSING it is he did that for me. It gave me the space to see him for who he really is. I came to realize that he was really a heartless, souless monster. He has no conscience, and he's not a Christian. He's a liar. As they say, the truth shall set you free. Seeing ths person, and this situation, exactly for what it is, brought a lot of clarity to me.
    This man is Greg Freeman from Ruthven, Ontario.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous,

      You may want to remove his identity, in fact, I'd suggest that you do. Then repost your comment (without his name) because it's excellent! I have a copy of your comment and will re-post it if you'd prefer.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    2. N/C is the only way to go with these predators. They are like sharks they can locate and harm you. They are not human more like a robot because they are forever repeating the same BS. I am worth more than that and you are as well. Stay away they will never change.

      Delete
  55. It happened to me twice: First was an abusive ex, who used it as a tool to make me more compliant when he came back to me. It worked, too, making me terrified to do anything wrong. But of course, within a week I did something "wrong," so off he went again, and I was devastated for some time.

    Second was a narcissistic "friend" who used it as a means to control me and make me compliant with her demands. Instead, I walked away. Of course, she found ways to make herself the victim after I walked. Even accused me of needing to "grow up" and take her punishment of me.

    And yeah, you feel like you can't get closure because you can't defend yourself or fix anything. Meanwhile, when two years later I went No Contact with HER, it was because she found my blog posts about her, and threatened me. Still making herself the victim, still shaming and scolding me. Which is why I broke off relations with her in the first place.

    I knew there was a difference between how the narc does it and how the victim does it, but you articulated it. :) And yes, both times, these people were trying to punish me and control me through No Contact, while I merely wanted to protect myself from further abuse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nyssa! What a pleasure hearing from you.

      I appreciate knowing my article was able to speak to your experiences, too. I thought about it for a long time before writing because I didn't want to invalidate people who eventually resigned themselves to No Contact as the only option.

      Thanks for commenting!
      CZ

      Delete
  56. You're welcome! Sounds like another example of a blogger wondering, "Should I post this?" And the answer is yes. :)

    I also reblogged this and hope it's driving more views your way. :)

    ReplyDelete
  57. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  58. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Brenda! There are options for using No Contact in a way that best suits your particular situation. Most advice is intended for romantic relationships in which the best thing is separating the "target" from a toxic attachment with a pathological partner.

      Family relationships are different in that our earliest bonds of attachment (security and safety) are with our parents. We are biologically wired to attach and those bonds are deep, even with siblings. We might suffer increased psychological stress by ending family relationships completely, so yes: stress if you stay and stress if you leave.

      Therapists encourage people to work with a counselor to help them deal with the unanticipated fall-out. If you decide to do go No Contact, you might consider a support group. Even a 12-step group is "grounding" on days when you are shaken by your decision. We are social creatures and knowing this encourages us create community before we're having a nervous breakdown. ;-( We like to believe we so self-reliant but that is a whopper of a lie.

      As far as notifying your family with a written letter, well---this is what was suggested back in Bradshaw's days (late 1980's) BUT Bradshaw was talking about dysfunctional families, not narcissistic families. Narcissistic families are triggered by rejection, defending themselves from any accusation or rejection by demeaning and devaluing the person rejecting them. Their aggression increases, potentially making your life hell on earth. If you have the choice, boring them to tears and being unreliable for contact might be an easier way to end things. Anything we can do to avoid confrontation is better for everyone in the end.

      However, you still may decide to make a formal declaration of No Contact and if you do, get thee to a support group. At this point, your sister probably won't drive 1000 miles to toilet-paper your house if you don't respond to an email. But if you declare No Contact, well...there's no end to what siblings will do to "protect" parents. I'm just not a person who tells anyone (unless their life is in danger) to tell their family to "______ off". Still, some people have done it and told me their decision may not have been physically threatening but it was spiritually threatening--they felt as if their souls were at stake.

      If you write your family a letter and tell them you're going No Contact, don't explain why. Whatever you say will be misunderstood, twisted into whatever they need to believe. Just tell them you need time to yourself, to think things through, and get your life in order and leave it at that. In the 1980's people were encouraged to tell parents exactly why they were going No Contact but if parents were merely dysfunctional, they were okay with that--hoping to reunite at some point. If parents were narcissistic, they weren't so accommodating or forgiving. They became very aggressive, even disowning children for daring suggest their parenting wasn't perfect!

      In my experience reading thousands of stories over the years, people who declared No Contact dealt with vicious attacks and smear campaigns and stalking---in an attempt to "protect" the narcissistic family's reputation. No Contact was not a panacea, believe me. People who used Low Contact seemed to fare better and people who simply bored-or-disappointed their family into ignoring them, had the peace they wanted. However, there is no universal one-size-fits-all and the final decision can only be made by the person drawing boundaries for him or herself.

      I think we should leave ourselves an "out" without burning bridges completely BECAUSE: I have seen a lot of people reunite with family after a period of healing. They never believed this would happen but they were eventually able to maintain a strong sense of self even with narcissistic family members. Having an option to restore relationship at a future date might be better for family members and yourself. Maybe.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  59. Hi Brenda

    Thanks a lot for sharing your story. I didn't grow up with narcs but I'm protecting my son from growing up with one - and my heart goes out to anyone who has.

    All I can offer you is that HG Tudor at narcsite.com has said that you should never tell a narc you are going no contact with them. Just do it. You owe them nothing at all, and it's your good self and your niceness and your empathy and your guilt that is telling you that somehow you do. So perhaps you are not quite there yet. Are you in some sort of therapy for healing old childhood wounds? John Bradshaw's 'Homecoming' series is on YouTube in its entirety. Perhaps you could go through the series and hs book/workbook and work with your inner child? It sounds like you need a damn good trauma counsellor. I know I do.

    Best of luck to you. xx

    ReplyDelete
  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brenda

      That book as 'Homecoming'.. I have it here and have only got up to the working part.. it's a book that you work though, really.

      It's very difficult to find local people who have experience in trauma bonding / Stockholm Syndrome. I would be interviewing your psychologists / counsellors to ensure they can help you before you visit them.

      Also, for sure you would have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). Richard Grannon on YouTube is a good source for working through CPTSD, but I'd also be looking for a psychologist who has a lot of experience working with childhood trauma / CPTSD as well. I'm in the process of finding this person myself.

      Another guy on YouTube is Understanding Narcissists - he comes from a family of narcs, so he has a lot of insight. Inner Intergration is good, and Sasha Slone is always great - but she's more in a romantic sense, I think.

      I still have cognitive dissonance because my abuse was covert and I had to figure it all out in hindsight - once I had got out. His mask never dropped, I never saw overt abuse - so I'm stuck in cycles of still thinking he could possibly be someone who could help us out - to knowing and needing to accept that this is impossible. It still goes round and round. One day, we get off the ride. ((<3))

      Delete
    2. Find a Trauma therapist who is skilled in working with ptsd. Many people growing up in narcissistic families, suffer some form of ptsd (c-ptsd). Even if you do not have an official diagnosis, trauma therapy WILL help. You might also benefit from CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to help you understand the way you think--the things that are healthy and those that aren't and how to catch yourself when your "thinking is stinking." ACoNs benefit from having a counselor notice all the ways they continue to beat themselves up, even after getting away from their narcissistic family! It can take years to undo the damage done the first few years of a child's life so we should TREAT ourselves well by getting all the help we need to become the person we were always meant to be. It's hard work, I shan't lie; I've been doing some form of recovery work since the 1980's and I still think and say and do things that make me blush.

      Since KG has already mentioned Bradshaw, here are a few Great GOOD and highly-recommended resources:

      Dr. Craig Malkin, Re-thinking Narcissism.(wonderful!!!!)

      Dr. Nina Brown, Loving the Self-Absorbed, etc.

      Drs. Pressman, The Narcissistic Family

      Drs. Cloud and Townsend, Boundaries (christian commentary but applicable to all)

      I will go through my home library and see if there are any books about "Low" contact or boring-family-into-leaving-you-alone.

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. I think that's terrible. It's important for you to know your own mind and have trust in it, and your intuition as you look for a therapist who respects that you are looking to heal and isn't threatened by you educating yourself. I'm sure there are narcs in the psychology business just as much as there are narcs in any other business.

      As an aside - the narc I knew was a surveyor. I used to say to him, "for a guy who spends his day dealing with physical boundaries, you sure have no idea about personal ones."

      Hence, I'm yesterday's mirror. :)

      Delete
    5. Many clinics list the type of treatments offered by their therapists. Try looking for a clinic and asking if anyone specializes in trauma. Mindfulness is another approach that would help you. There's also DBT (dialectical and behavioral therapy) but it's difficult finding therapists specializing in DBT and I don't know the insurance complications you might face. CBT, at least a limited number of sessions, is usually insured so be sure to ask about that.

      In my experience, we need a professional counselor to help us because the ways we think might be 'normal' to our bestest friends. Ya know? There's nothing like rambling along about your life and having a wise counselor look you in the eye and say, "Ouch! Do you always poke yourself in the nose?" And we realize how often we poke ourselves in the nose because we didn't even realize we were doing that!

      When my family members were looking for counselors and they had a basic understanding of pathology, I encouraged them to keep their knowledge to themselves. Especially at first when your main goal is establishing an emotional connection with your therapist. That is what's important, not your diagnosis of the problem. In fact, a diagnosis by a layperson can be offsetting to therapists who might not be as accommodating to people educating themselves via Internet.

      If you want to talk about familial narcissism, take an underlined and highlighted book by a credible psychologist such as the ones I've listed. Please don't use Youtube as your example 'cuz honestly, it could disturb an otherwise great relationship with your therapist. So this is, to me, a question of boundaries. Yours AND your therapists. They have the clinical experience and the education---we don't. We have to trust they will not only understand our problems but be able to help us whether or not our family merits an official diagnosis. The right time will come when you can discuss "how" you came to believe your family was narcissistic and of course, give your therapist the url to my blog if you are so inclined. Many people have and their therapists have validated my work as "safe", even for folks with ptsd.

      I have been involved in this 'movement' since 2002 and witnessed a LOT of misinformation being spread on the internet. A lot of angry blogs that are awesome to get our anger moving but not necessarily intended to be a resource for "healthy living". People are drawn to blogs and websites defining narcissism as evil but this delays or prevents healthy healing if people stay trapped in a black-and-white thinking, anger and revenge.

      I think bloggers (including myself) deserve the scrutiny and criticism we get. :-( We can and should do better, it's just that most people move through the Totally-Pissed-Off-Phase and stop blogging.

      Take a credible psychologist's book with you to therapy, like any book from Dr. Nina Brown, Dr. Craig Malkin, or the Pressman's fine book about the narcissistic family. That way your therapist will understand your perceptions of your family and how you were affected by dysfunctional dynamics in your family. Therapists can talk openly about narcissism as a personality trait everyone has but will be reluctant (and rightfully so) to say your family or parents (or anyone they have never met) has a pathological personality disorder. Talk about narcissism as a personality trait, not a personality disorder.

      Or, use books about dysfunctional families and codependency (John Bradshaw; charles Whitfield) and then you aren't getting bogged down with clinical descriptions beyond the layperson's full scope of understanding. ~CZ

      Delete
  61. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I don't want this journey to turn me into somebody I can't live with."

      I was angry in the beginning as most people are; however, anger is supposed to work like jet fuel moving you away from dangerous situations. It's a phase AND it cam be addictive because it makes you feel powerful (an illusion of course!)

      I set my goal on "peace" and refused to behave in ways that some folks might have condoned but would have betrayed my core self. I have not regretted being kind, even when the other person did not merit my understanding. We can be kind and angry at the same time--a healthy way to maintain our sense of self and protect ourselves from assault and insult. Know your values and strive to live up to them, even when someone deserves a fat poke in their nose!!

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. If I may offer - meditation really helps. Meditation is your higher self guiding you to make choices based on exactly that - your higher self. Even if you only take 10 minutes a day - it's better than nothing.

      In Australia we have an app called 1GiantMind - it's free and it teaches you to meditate if you haven't before. It's absolutely brilliant and very supportive. And I promise you, before long you will be following your higher self to GUIDE you in the direction that you need to go. All you need to do is commit to those 10 or 10x2 minute sessions per day, and after some time (just like a physical gym) you will feel less lost and intuitively know which direction to steer your rudder. It won't come from your emotions but your inner guidance system.

      I actually came out of no contact after two years doing this. I watched a lot of Abraham Hicks videos on YouTube (really great). I googled for 'abraham hicks and revenge' because I was so, so over being mired in lower vibrations - how can I attract to me what I need if I'm feeling angry, disempowered, victimised, vengeful? And I found her saying 'if the next best emotion you can find to anger is revenge, then seek it. Do it' (of course, not illegally). And so I did - and although I had done two years of no contact and thus gained the ability to see clearly, I felt so much better doing small, indirect things that I knew would hurt the narcissist. And I felt empowered. That's all I needed to feel my agency again.

      It's not something for everyone, and it's not something that I will continue to do for the rest of my life - but it was a necessary part of my progression forward on my healing journey, and it was what my higher self led me to know that I had to do. The decision wasn't taken in anger - and in fact, I felt mischievous and enjoyed knowing what his reaction would be (well, as much as I can imagine what it would be, anyway). A narc is a narc, right?

      Delete
    4. Cont/.... Really simple things like, I had an anonymous bad breath email sent to him. On his birthday I had a crematorium send him a brochure. I 'accidentally' sent him a photo of my son, my dog and I smiling and having a great time at Christmas. Then I got even bolder and directly emailed him to tell him that I have had such a wonderful time as a mother, and such a great pregnancy, that I would love to do it again. That's called couching - and you would know that narcs couch absolutely everything. I was giving him a compliment by paying him attention and saying how he changed my life, but wrapping it in a wrapper of shit by letting him know that we are happy, joyous, he didn't beat me, I'm not crying, and I don't even care enough to hold a grudge.

      Of course, I'd never sleep with him again - how could I do that to myself again when he's probably critiquing my body or looking at ways that I don't measure up? But it made me feel good to CONFUSE him - ignite his rage about how I escaped, I have freedom, we're happy, but tell him that this is all because of him. :)

      We have the power with these people. You have absolute power over these faggot cowards (excuse my language but that's what comes up to describe them right now). And if you know how to use that power, you empower yourself. I disengaged way too early. I jumped the gun and shot myself in the foot. I did not get my own closure. It's different for you because you have worked up to it. But that's my story, anyway.

      It's not for everyone, but it certainly was fun for me. Instead of feeling silented, I had myself heard (and it worked, he paid me less the next month and the month after that he didn't pay me at all). Haha, you say, you're cutting off your nose to spite your face! I know. It's compulsive. It's egotistical, and I am trying to be less egotistical. He's back on track now though. Who knows why, who cares.

      But - I will tire, I will disengage. I will grow up. I give myself time and patience to grow and to forgive and to live and to learn. But moral of this long story - meditation to find and know your own answers - because only you have the key to what is right for you. <3

      Delete
    5. Re Richard Grannon, he comes across a bit of an egotistical dick really (to me, anyway) but his message is really very good and I really should watch more videos of his. Also, thanks for the book recommendations CZ, I"ll be sure to read some myself. I follow Maklin's channel on YouTube, he really is very good because he's someone who has empirical evidence and as I have a psychology background I appreciate the message without the emotion. <3

      Delete
    6. ha! I enjoyed the hell out of your message, KG, but as you may know if you've read my Big Fat Opinion about "the secret", I'd never suggest anyone follow advice from Abraham Hicks. ;-P

      Nor that they chew on a narcissist's hide to make themselves feel better; but if that worked for you, then you're lucky. You have to live your life as I have to live mine and we can joyfully share our experiences without needing to control one another. (See what good work I've done on establishing healthy boundaries?! ha!)

      My rule of thumb on getting revenge to make ourselves feel better is this: We take a nibble and they take a chunk and we take a bigger bite back and they wallop that shit out of us and then we back down after destroying our integrity and feeling worse about ourselves than we did before the initial nibble. ha!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    7. "I'm not too worried that I'll fall prey to them directly. But I am worried about extended family. Do you have any words of wisdom or resources you might recommend regarding issues to be aware of with extended family when going no contact with foo? I just want to be prepared and make low drama choices." ~Brenda

      You've set the ball in motion by blocking texts and phone calls, so I'm not sure how your family will interpret that? Have you done this before? A simple "need time for me" explanation might have been in order (not an explanation or accusation) but that is how "I" would handle things. I do not know your family history and have no idea how upset they might be but if you feel okay about cutting things off this way, you probably have enough justification for doing that. You seem to have taken plenty of time before making this decision and if you believe it was best to say nothing, then trust your instincts and follow through with your decision.

      As far as extended family members, that might depend on how often you hear from them. Do you see family members frequently? They will probably try to "mend fences" so the only thing I can think of is "cutting them off at the pass". In other words, they say something about your family missing you; and you deftly switch the topic to "What are you doing now, Auntie May?" Don't address the topic and they will understand that you aren't going to talk about it with them or anyone. This will be a relief to them, actually.

      People dislike being pitted between family members. It makes them uncomfortable and sad and they'll defend whoever is being maligned. So don't be the maligner.

      This is when a therapist is hugely beneficial because you'll be tempted to defend yourself when someone gives you the "soft eye" (or you may start crying, depends on your personality). If you know you have a safe place/counselor where you can talk about your feelings and thoughts, then you won't leap at the chance to tell others. Family members may see your revelations as an invasion of their boundaries. They may even resent being drawn into the drama...

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  62. No contact does not always work. In my case, I had to hide. I did this for 10 years (no public profiles, kept my location/job etc quiet) and then he found him and resumed his campaign of stalking/threats. He also sent letters to my work colleagues, hoping it would get me fired. It did not, but once again I had to involve police, get restraining orders and so on. A decade ago, he'd already been to jail 3 times over this and he simply resumes as soon as he is out again. So, do I need to keep moving? Change my name? don't understand why no contact does NOT WORK for me. Why is this the holy grail of solutions? Not ONCE have i returned to him or initiated anything. I hate the bastard and we dated for a year when i was 19, before I saw he was a psycho and left immediately. NEVER wanted him back. I;m 30 now and he will not leave me alone. Suggestions anyone????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No Contact doesn't always work, that's true. The kind of behavior you're writing about however, is stalking and harassment--police involvement is essential. That he is doing this to you after only dating him once, makes the situation even more precarious because it sounds like he's delusional. I have only talked with a few people over the past decade, who dealt with similar situations; so I know there isn't much help from police.

      I am late getting back to your comment so if you are still reading, could you tell me if you've talked with mental health services? Are there other social services such as "domestic violence" that can offer you suggestions? That's where you need to ask for help because what he's doing is aggressive and potentially dangerous! He may not be mentally ill however a quick google suggests he might be.

      Stalking takes a toll on your mental health, too. It destroys your ability to feel SAFE and everyone needs to feel safe in order to function healthily. Because he's been doing this for years, you may show signs of c-ptsd, or anxiety and depression. Have you talked with a therapist skilled in trauma?

      Hope to hear from you again and I sincerely hope you are able to find protective resources. Be safe!

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
  63. Hi CZ - fantastic insights on the narc and their appropriation of No Contact. I am new to your blog and this is the first post I've read. I should read a bit more to find out about what personally brought you here. Everyone has a story. I am married into a narc family system - my husband is the passive nice-guy co-dependant now scapegoat, and I, after putting my finger on what makes this aick family tick, am too now thr scapegoat. It took so much time and agony to understand what was hidden in clear sight! My husband's older brother and business partner was the aggressor to my husband's passive doormatting, the dreamer to my husband's realism, the taker to my husband's giving. My husb. pushed back and he'd relent, enough for us to forgive and forget until he started all over again. This culminated in the business being threatened with bankruptcy, somethi g the older brother had a hard time accepting - it was far more beneficial to him than it ever was to my husband. The lack of accountability suited him perfectly, and when my husband question him about time and money management he'd have tempter tantrums, or would shame and guilt and belittle my husband. My husband was too loyal to the point of losing his business and his self esteem. He did, with my insight and lot of hard self reflective work on his own, in the end assert that he wanted to end the business with his brother. This caused the above temper tantrums and months of silent treatment. They ended up bankrupt.

    This has been hard on my marriage and my family of 3 sons - it is hard for our sons to get their heads around a narc system that their aunts and uncles and grand parents are involved in (by denial and smear campaigns of course) My kids don't understand nor want to - I can understand their hesitancy and how overwhelming this is -we haven't told them everything, just enough to understand that their uncle does not have our best interests in mind and has cruel, retaliatory intentions towards their father.

    Though the brother tried low contact and silent treatment to me initially 7 years ago when I confronted him with his abuse (I was oblvious to his narcissism at the time and thought he was a normal human with a conscience) he is now as no contact with his while family as possible except for big events like 60th anniversary of his parents and obliatory xmas - as if he's the victim - family thinks he's a bit in the wrong and just think its a personality differece between the brothers - not having any time, curiosity or empathy for our story - they prefer their own versions - the rare time they do ask we end up regretting anything we tell them because they dininish it, don't believe it, insidt we're too sensitive, and discredit our story or ourselved as rational humans.
    We have gone low contact for our sanity and have spoken only to professionals and strictly friends with no connections with the family.
    My husband needs a lot more belp on the self-esteem end of things and needs to be in touch with his feelings and break habit of supressing and pleasing - though we have analysed this ad nauseum, I am impatient with the slow slow process of recovery and fee like half our marriage has been stolen by this crisis and now seems to continue without end. I naively thought after all this we 'd be in more solid ground but it feels like its just new ground, but just as shaky.
    Any advice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My best advice is this: SLOW is fast. Don't put a time table on healing. I believe people need to live their lives and allow the healing process to happen as it will. Focusing too much on ourselves can make things worse because nobody is more self-critical than ACoNs. They believe they must be perfect and it can take years before this dysfunction self-corrects. You've got a life to live in between the "awakening" and the "becoming." So glean some information for understanding and allow that to work its way into changed behavior. It's not easy to stop analyzing because at first, we're relieved by analysis. But at some point, it become "overthinking" and that becomes exhausting, making people feel like they are "helpless to change". Recovery takes longer than they think they can bear and that is why we need periodic vacations from recovery work.

      It's also important to remember that narcissists are debilitated by shame. If your husband's brother is ashamed of his failure/losses, then each time he sees his family he feels terrible about himself. (so terrible that it may feel life-threatening for him). He may occasionally assume he can be around family members but his defenses will be high because he can't trust they won't use his failure to 'shame' him.

      We take narcissist's behavior so personally but if you put yourself in their shoes and feel the depth of their shame, then it's easier to understand why they cannot bear to be with people-who-know for very long. Because you confronted him, you are seen as a threat and he will defend himself because he must. He may realize it's best for him to stay away because he can't resolve his shame. That's an important point to remember since most of us experience shame when we fail; but we get over ourselves eventually. Our true self reminds us of our worth and we're able to transform shame into humility. You know how most of us find meaning in our mistakes and glean a piece of gold from the misery? Narcissists lack the emotional strength to do that for themselves...they spiral into shame and stay there. "We" become constant reminders of their failure.

      Narcissistic family members use denial to keep the system together. They don't do well with confrontation which means of course: nothing is ever resolved. Nothing. That can be frustrating for people who successfully negotiate healthy relationships through honest confrontation and mutual good will. You have the ability to do that and you know, it's a blessing because not everyone can bear the truth. You tell it like it is, seek resolution, increase intimacy and trust because of your honesty.

      (continued)

      Delete
    2. In contrast: the narcissistic family pretends there aren't any problems, denies how they feel and invalidates how others feel and is threatened by anyone piercing their wall-of-pretense. Of course, that means unresolved emotions are projected onto others (scapegoats) or evacuated through passive-aggression. It IS maddening.

      Once you understand the narcissistic defense system however, you can avoid taking their dysfunction personally. And you won't get caught up in trying to "teach" them better behavior; educate them about dysfunction; believe you can love them enough to get them to change. You can get to the point where you're observing the system from a detached and self-aware position. You aren't indifferent because of course you care about family members; but, you aren't caught up their drama. You just say, "Oh, that must have been awful for you!" and leave it at that. They can fix their own awfuls..or not.

      Low contact will give you time to stabilize, to integrate what you are learning without reviewing and rehashing every encounter. I think Low Contact is much better than cutting people out of your life. Narcissistic families can tolerate Low Contact but No Contact may increase their demands because they feel "bad" about themselves for not being a perfect family.

      I don't know if any of this will help. Recovery is a process and it is always slower than we'd like it to be. I dig in and step away and dig in and step away and this has been going on for three decades. There's a lot of loving to do in those decades, a lot of life to live. ;-)

      Hugs,
      CZ

      Delete
    3. Thanks so much for this CZ - it feels good to be heard, and understood so well. You are truly doing a great thing here.
      I just don't know what to do with my sons - how do we explain for them to understand?

      My husband traces his co dependency and being bullied by both older and younger brothers (who also triangulated) and father all the way into his childhood - they still treat him with disrespect and contempt now -of course with no witnesses. I hate them for doing this to my husband. He has two brothers and he cannot trust them and is rejected by them covertly - how do you go about securing self esteem when your brothers reject you and bully you and your family refuses to see it?

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...